Loss. Losing your person. Losing your things. Losing yourself.
Sounds bad, doesn't it? It certainly feels bad... for a while. But with enough time and enough shift in perspective, the help from friends, and the understanding that loss is just an opportunity to win again, one can really work wonders with what they no longer have.
Loss is an opportunity to find and finding something new or just deepening the understanding of yourself is one of the most wonderful parts about growing. I look at my own life and it's fun to consider what the setbacks have really given me.
I'm going to take a moment to tell you one of my favorite stories about losing something. It's a story that still years later plays a part in my daily life. This is a story of how loss is just an opportunity to win.
November 2009 - Malmö Sweden
I was a speaker at the Öredev conference in Malmö, I was here to talk about some of the jailbreak stuff that I'd done on the original iPhone. My talk's went well, I met a ton of awesome developers, made new friends, and drank WAY too much. One of the new folks I met was a gentleman named Michael Tiberg and at the time he was the organizer of the conference. Not you're typical swede in any sense, he was super open to strangers, way outgoing, I mean really open, and an all around good guy. He invited me over to his house for dinner after the conference was over and after dinner we went out for drinks. The spot we chose was a little cuban inspired place, mojitos were the drink of the night and while they were expensive as hell, I didn't really mind. The night before I'd cleaned up at the local casino playing hold'em against a drunk group of Danish guys and I was free-rolling with respect to booze! Funny thing about poker chips, is that if you sit down at a table, you shouldn't think of the chips as money, and with the further abstraction of an exchange rate... I was betting stacks of orange or pinks... no idea what their true value was. Nevertheless, I cleaned house.
Back to our 5th mojito. Ok it was time to settle up from the last round and I went for my passport wallet, as that's what I'd been carrying around. Not in my back pocket, not in either of my fronts, mmm... Maybe the bathroom! Nope. The passport, creditcards, and cash were all gone. GONE.
Gutted, I realized how MEGASCREWED I was. How the eff am I supposed to get back to the states? How do I get another passport? How am I going to pay for this? A myriad of questions were tumbling in my alcoholic-ly foggy brain.
The following morning, more than a tad hungover, I awoke to Michael making Americanos for both of us. A typical swedish sandwich was also had for breakfast.
So that was my mission, get to CPH and get my passport sorted, I went to the embassy, they told me to come back with some photos, I went and withdrew the requisite cash from Michaels bank... still unbelieving that I had his pin code... and came back to the embassy, lousy photos in hand in the hopes they would get the passport done before my return flight. The embassy official told me that it wouldn't be a problem, within 24 hours come back and pickup my passport. I went back to Michael's place, buying a return ticket to Malmö with his money and rendezvoused with him for dinner. He was gracious enough to let me stay another night at his house and it was over duty free bourbon that an amazing plan was hatched.
Over drinks that night a plan was hatched, one to get Michael down to LA and then out to the Black Rock dessert for an experience to change our lives. This plan was set in motion on a cold ass winter night in malmo.
Ten months later, Michael was on a plane from CPH to LAX to meet me for packing and preparation for our "burn".
Michael and I went to Burning Man that year, and suffice it to say, our world was changed. We're the closest of friends now and I'm the Entrepreneur in Residence at his new company FooCafe (foocafe.org). He's one of my closest friends and I am grateful to have met him.
Better still, I'm glad to have lost my passport. The entirety of my life was changed by a single event. Loss can be awesome, you just have to embrace what comes next.