Who knew my journey from Budapest to Subotica recently would prove to be such a learning experience? From the first lunge of the train, to Andreas storming through my cabin, it was an interesting ride to say the least.
The trip was probably the most surreal three hours of my life.
From the moment Andreas entered my cabin, I knew I was in for a wild ride. There was just something about this guy. And it wasn’t just his linen pants tucked into his socks or his multi-colored Turkish coat. There was something else. I must admit I got a little nervous when, in a completely empty cabin, he chose the seat opposite me and said, “I’ll sit here so we can talk.” “Talk about what?” I thought. But why not go with the flow, I figured; the movie I’d planned on watching could wait.
“What do you do for a living?” seemed like a harmless way for me to begin the conversation.
“I’m a beggar,” Andreas responded.
I reconsidered my approach. What do you say to that?
“Oh, great… that must be interesting,” I said.
We both paused; I kept eye contact with him and he smiled an amazing smile. No beggar I had ever seen had a toothpaste commercial smile. This kid was yanking my chain. Okay, I thought, I’m going to bite. So I said to him, “I’m really not sure if you’re a smart rat, or if you’re a whack job.” His smile got wider.
“I’m a true believer,” he said.
At that point I saw the conversation going in one of two ways; either a mundane “how’s this weather?” conversation, or to another dimension. In a situation like this, normally I’d choose to take the fast pass e-ticket (the one you needed to ride the wildest rides at Disney back in the day), but I wasn’t exactly sure who I was dealing with. So I decided instead I would just exchange some pleasantries and get back to my peaceful train ride. I went on automatic and asked Andreas a “how’s this weather?” kind of question.
He paused, looked right at me with piercing eyes, and said, “That’s not what you want to know. We’ve been put together here to learn lessons from each other.”
Now, I’m about as spiritual as they get and I truly believe things happen for a reason. But I was not sure about this scenario. I was thinking this was either the coolest thing ever, or I’m about to get mugged. I started to plan my escape strategy when, all of a sudden, a little old lady poked her head in the door and said something. I have no clue what, but I made it to mean “are these seats available?” With a sigh of relief, I nodded my head and pointed to all the empty seats. “Please pick a seat!” I thought. What the old lady could do if I got in a jam, I don’t know… Heck, for all I knew, she was in on it – but for whatever reason, I now felt safer on my ride.
Andreas told me everything from why he was on the train (heading to Istanbul to meet with a friend of his mother’s) to profound insights from his life. At certain points in the conversation, I began to question my own reality. One of things I trust in life is the universe always delivers the message I need to hear. And it’s my job to listen and not judge how it’s delivered.
Jesus, God, Buddha, Allah, Muhammad, the universe – whatever you choose to call the force bigger than ourselves – works in mysterious ways. So I sat and listened to the prophet tell me what I needed to hear. He made some great points.
But it wasn’t until he stormed out of our cabin that I got the message loud and clear.
He was struggling with a question I had asked him about his girlfriend. He’d told me, “You’re doing it again! At another point I tried to meet you, but you pushed me away. Are you doing that again?”
I wasn’t sure what to say.
It was then I discovered he wanted me to be his disciple. He said, “If you don’t hate your life and you’re not willing to put me above your wife and children (which I don’t have) and your parents, then you cannot be my disciple.”
I turned to him and said, “I love my life and I’m okay with not being your disciple.”
As he left the cabin, I was crystal clear that that was the point. My message from the universe? I love my life!