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I met myself in fifty years in the doorway of a coffee shop on San Francisco Street. Monsoon rains tapped a steady march on the sidewalk. Water swirled around parked car tires as it rushed downhill. He was bent over with the weight of years. Crow’s feet sprouted like ivy from the corners of his eyes. But definitely me.

“Tell me how to avoid your mistakes,” I said. “How can I avoid the pain, the loss and the beating of time? Is there a path that is smoother than the one you took?”

He chuckled, though his voice was coarse and sharp like broken glass in the gutters. Still, I begged for the secret.

“From where I stand, I could go a hundred different ways to a thousand different places to do ten thousand different things. And I know that every step is in wet concrete.”

He shook his head. Raindrops fell from the wispy white curls that clung to his deeply lined forehead.

“You’re going to mess up no matter what you do,” he said. “There are always regrets, because your choices have consequences — one leads to another leads to another and you don’t know whether it’s right or wrong until you look over your shoulder.”

“Then just tell me what to do,” I insisted.

“I can’t give you a map,” he replied. “It doesn’t work that way. You have to make the mistakes. You need the mistakes. They shape you; teach you. The wrong choices are just as good as the right ones, don’t you see?”

He looked out into the street as cars drove by. Water sprayed up behind them and fell in arcs back to the pavement. But for a moment, they flew.

“Don’t be afraid of the future,” he said. “Run headlong into it. Be bold. Life is an adventure you only get to live once and how you get from you to me is entirely your call.”

He turned his collar up to the rain and started to walk away.

“At least tell me next week’s winning lottery numbers!” I called after him.

“You’re just gonna have to gamble.”

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and social media addict living in Flagstaff, AZ. He blogs here and tweets here. Please leave your thoughts and comments and thank you for reading!

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