Starting My Second Life – An Ode to Jimmy

A year ago, I was sitting in Xiamen International Airport, gate 8, when a friendly-looking guy walked up to me and said “Hi, my name is Jimmy and I’m doing some research for university and was wondering if I could ask you some questions. It’ll only take about 10 to 15 minutes.” My usual answer to these kinds of inquiries? No thanks. But my flight was delayed, I was bored, and like I said, he looked friendly! Thirty minutes later we were still talking, interview notes cast away. And an hour later I was in the airplane on my way to Jakarta, inspired to change my life. What happened in that waiting room?

During the interview (which was about travelling and airplanes) Jimmy and I got to talking about all sorts of other things. Comparing flight experiences led to comparing life experiences, and we found out we had more in common than only enjoying quiet and comfort, and no elbows in your rib cage, during long hauls.

What do you want in life? What do you really enjoy doing? Are you happy in your current job? Jimmy had done what I was too scared to do; he turned away from a potentially lucrative career in law to pursue his dreams in designing. Not that I want to be a designer, no! I mean pursuing your dreams, doing what makes you happy, and living the life you want to. By all measures my life is nowhere near bad, but I’ve kept my own dreams on hold for a long time. I could say life and a serious career got in the way, but what it comes down to is that change is scary. I would know, I work in change management. On a daily basis I advise people on change while too chicken to make my own changes. Just goes to show, never trust a consultant.

But back to Jimmy, at some point during our awesome conversation he said, “You sound like the kind of person that has a blog.” He floored me. It was something I had thought about for months, and it was exactly the kind of thing I never got around to doing: too busy, too tired, blah blah blah, insert any excuse. What was holding me back? I told Jimmy all this and he said I should just do it. In fact he pressed me to pursue this. He told me about a quote he uses as his life mantra, the gist of it was something like this: Everyone starts with two lives, and you start your second life the day you realize you only have one.

With that quote in mind I boarded my flight to Jakarta and started typing the first version of this post. Energized and ready to start anew! But as I said, that was a year ago… A lot has happened in the past year, some good and some not so good things. Jimmy, I should have followed up on your advice right away. But better late than never, right? So thank you for the inspiring talk on that random day in Xiamen, this one’s for you.

PS. You can find Jimmy’s designs on his website: