I was invited to Bend, Oregon, to play golf with a couple of friends. It was going to be a seven-day trip, and I was excited. We met up at around 5 am, in a Mcdonald’s by the airport. It was my second time on a flight during the pandemic; I was cautious and used plenty of sanitizing wipes. During the first day of the trip, everyone was playing really well, except me. I hadn’t slept well because I was over-caffeinated, which always affects my game. Still, I was in a positive mood because I decided to enjoy myself and just shoot for the next day. We drove back to the house, had a nice dinner, and went to bed. We showed up the next day at 11:30; there was an hour and a half delay because there was frost on the course, which was wonderful considering it was early September.

While we waited we checked our phones. At this point, my friend Jim received a call saying that his friend, Mike, had woken up in the middle of the night to a wall of fire that was approximately 50 yards from their home. Mike’s son, Derek, was the one who ran to wake his parents. They got dressed, grabbed their car keys, and ran off. I immediately told Jim that they could come stay with us; we had plenty of space. We played an exciting, rewarding game and walked home. A few hours later, Mike, Melanie, and Derek joined us. I had personally been forced out of my home by a fire just years ago, so I could empathize with what they were experiencing. We learned that they were both retired school teachers; Melanie was an artist and Mike had been a legendary baseball coach. We talked about the importance of mentoring young people, and the skill and confidence it requires.

We decided to go to dinner and proceeded to have a conversation in which Derek talked about having the sense that he hadn’t lived his life to the fullest potential. He had served time in the Navy and had spent time in Spain. He was doing contractual building work and was in the process of trying to figure out what his next step would be. I asked him what he would choose if he only had 30 seconds to decide, and he quickly said “music.” Both Mike and Melanie jumped in to say that Derek played the guitar beautifully and that he used to be in a band. It quickly became apparent that music was the thing that had always inspired him. We talked about how often it is daunting to face oneself and what one truly wants. Connecting with your purpose in life requires courage because doing so means you are responsible for creating it for yourself. The conversation stayed with me.

The next day, they found out that they lost their house. We spent that afternoon talking and calling the insurance company. They were immediately proactive and receptive to what to do next. They discussed rebuilding. That day, I bought Derek a guitar.

The experience of watching brave people tackle their life made an impact on me. Part of me wants to hope that this all happened for some reason: that they will rebuild and continue and that Derek will play his music. I just want to say amen.

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