I met Carl Strong in a waiting room. We were both having our cars worked on (his an Escalade, mine a little Volkswagon.) His presence filled the room. I made eye contact with him and knew we would talk, and sure enough, within a few minutes everyone in the waiting room was chatting away like old friends.
You know what it's like in waiting rooms! The mixture of boredom and sitting on the edge of your seat, hoping the repair doesn't cost too much. I bring a book to read but I can't really focus. I try not to peer inside to see if they are working on my car. I look outside. I listen to the man at the desk answer the phone. I read the magazines they have like AARP (great interview with Bob Dylan!)
Carl sat down a seat away from me. I smiled and gave him a look that meant that I was open to talking.
He told me a lot of things- like how a few years ago he had a heart transplant. I said, "Wow! Congratulations!" He has the heart of a 23-year-old in his body.
Carl Strong is nationally touring comedian. He has shared the stage with people like Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson.
He had a lot to share about what brought him to needing a heart transplant. Habits, addiction, and the lifestyle and sometimes struggles of being an entertainer.
And although Carl is a 50-something year old comedian I sat with him and I related. I listened.
I don't really identify with being an "entertainer" - but wait, maybe I do.
He was talking about feeling a little sick sometimes, or not feeling up to par, and the demand of going on stage, delivering, "There's people waitin' on me!" So you do what you need to do to deliver. You deliver... and it's easy to justify that at whatever cost.
I think most of us can relate. We put ourselves, our health, second to whatever it is.. career, money, love life, our children even.. we do it because of some type of rule we made for ourselves.
Soon enough, Carl included the other people in the room into our conversation. One man was excited to talk about his love for Pink Floyd! The whole energy in the room was different. Even after Carl left, I found myself playing tic-tac-toe with the five-year-old next to me (maybe the best part of this!)
I don't know if Carl knew how much I could relate to some of the things he was saying. I'm thankful for what he shared! I know as I keep learning and growing, becoming wiser (I hope!) about living a healthy life, a sustainable one, I'll think of Carl Strong and his heart.