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7 Truths About Life and Risk I Learned From A Crazy Dude At Starbucks

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starbucks-scorcerorFellow Riskologist,

Yesterday, as I sipped tea and made notes for the coming week, an odd man sat down beside me.

Starbucks is my default mobile office these days. I’m like a platinum preferred guest now. I’m on a first name basis with all the baristas within 5 miles of my house, and when I walk in, they start preparing my tea before I even get to the counter.

In the winter, though, Starbucks tends to attract an interesting clientele.

The most vulnerable and truly destitute don’t seem to make it in, but the vagrant youth and traveling homeless stop in during the winter to buy a cup of coffee and warm themselves before moving on.

This fellow, looking a bit down on his luck, sat next to me as I worked and began to mutter to himself as he scribbled in a notebook. I sometimes mutter and scribble in my notebook, so the only difference between us was the cleanliness of our clothes.

Pretty soon, he started loudly asking rhetorical questions like “How many people here are actually controlling their own bodies?”

After a few questions, it became clear he was actually looking for an answer and maybe wanted some conversation. Finding myself a little unfocused and having a hard time working, I decided to indulge him. I answered, “Approximately 60%. But I don’t know who’s controlling the rest.”

He replied, “That’s about right. And I’m controlling the rest. Want to know how?”

“Yes, I think I’d like to hear about that.”

What followed was an hour and a half of the craziest conversation I’ve ever had in my life.

7 Truths About Life And Risk I Learned From A Crazy Dude At Starbucks

I couldn’t help myself. Everyone around the store watched with nervous interest as I engaged this guy in a Charlie Rose style interview, leading the conversation with open-ended and sometimes uncomfortable questions, allowing him to build one insane and fantastic story on top of another.

Turns out, he’d stopped at Starbucks that day to work on his book about dark magic and how to control the human mind. He’d arrived in Portland a few years ago after leaving New Orleans where he and a small group of friends had been responsible for summoning Hurricane Katrina.

Now he’s building a small army of “enlightened individuals” preparing to lead the world into a new dimension (his words, not mine) where we all live thousands of years.

He told me about writing his book. He told me about making friends through telepathy. He told me about his love life and how he has a hard time with women.

Over the course of our conversation, he told me many fascinating and troubling things. But between his mad mutterings and exclamations, he actually said a number of things that struck a chord with me and my own life philosophy.

Despite being batshit crazy, this gentleman had a few poignant truths to share about life and how to live it to your greatest potential.

Today, I want to share them with you by attempting to boil our unbelievable conversation down to it’s nuggets of useful wisdom.

All in a day’s work, friends.

1. Reality is what you make of it. If you think you’re a victim, you’ll be a victim.

Living on the streets, this fellow has had his share of people try to harm him. Luckily, his superior mind control skills have kept him safe and allowed him to stop his attackers.

He told me that, for a while, he had a hard time trusting people because everyone was trying to kill him. But then he decided it was bad energy to make himself out as a victim all the time. He told me whenever he started feeling sorry for himself, more bad things would happen.

Eventually, he realized he was living a self-fulfilling prophesy. So he decided to change his story and tell himself he’s a winner and people love him. Now he time travels in his sleep building a following for his group of enlightened individuals. No one tries to kill him anymore.

2. The world is a better place when people take charge of their own destiny.

Throughout our conversation, this guy told me how much he hates “sheeple”—people who do as their told, follow the crowd, and accept everything told to them.

That’s why, he says, he loves Portland. It’s a place where strong-willed people do their thing without worrying about what society says they should be doing.

When he meets sheeple, he uses his mind-control techniques to change their environment so they’re forced to make important decisions about their lives. If they choose poorly and take the easy way out, it will lead them to a life of torment. But if they take charge, it will lead them to enlightenment.

I asked him if he was using his mind control techniques on me. I was flattered to be told I didn’t need them.

3. Life is do or die. You absolutely must follow your dreams.

This guy knows what it means to follow a dream. I mean, he had a dream that told him to gather eight friends and summon one of the world’s worst hurricanes to clear New Orleans of its moral bankruptcy. He didn’t question it; he just did it because he knew he’d be paralyzed with splitting headaches if he didn’t do what his dreams told him to.

I asked him if he felt any remorse for all the pain and suffering he caused as a result of Hurricane Katrina. He said he didn’t and that those people got what they needed.

I disagreed with him on that. But he did make a convincing point: If you have a dream (that doesn’t involve wrecking other people’s lives…), you should do what you can to make it come true. Otherwise, you may regret it.

4. You don’t need the whole plan to get started. You just need the next step.

When this guy was getting ready to wipe out New Orleans, he told me he didn’t know where it would lead him in the future. All he knew is that he had to follow what “felt right” for him, and that was his next step.

And, looking back, he’s decided it was the right choice because it’s lead him to Portland where his powers have only grown stronger and now he can affect even more change on the world (frightening…).

He says he doesn’t know exactly what’s coming down the line for him—he’s not a fortune teller—but that he knows exactly what to do today, tomorrow, and next week that will lead him the right direction for years to come.

His story was disturbing as hell, but I did feel a connection with this idea. I often fret about where my life will lead me in the future, but as long as my smaller, daily choices feel right, the future should work itself out.

5. Every loss in your life is actually an opportunity to grow.

This is a man who has experienced much loss in his life. Friends, family, possessions, perhaps his sanity. But he holds no grudges and doesn’t think himself a victim.

Instead, he embraces the loss in his life. He says each time he loses something he thinks is important, he finds it was to clear space to gain something different and better. This is an idea many can relate to, and one that’s also proven true in my life.

This was a poignant moment in our conversation.

6. Life is a marathon. You have to make progress every day, but don’t go too fast.

My Starbucks interview subject is writing a book about free will, mind control, and the new era of human evolution and enlightenment. Weighty subjects! It won’t be for sale—you can only get it directly from him because the information would be dangerous in the wrong hands.

I wanted to ask more about what the “wrong hands” would do with such information, but I didn’t want to stop him on his next point:

Life is a marathon. He told me he writes one page a day. Never more and never less. That is his pace. If he slows down, he’ll never finish his book. But if he speeds up, he’ll burn out and it won’t turn out as good as it should be.

He’s in a hurry to finish, but he knows he can’t rush himself if he wants to produce something great.

7. Everything should be as simple as possible.

Time traveling, mind control, and telepathy are incredibly complex subjects my interviewee told me. Too complex for the average person to understand or take advantage of.

And so his job is to simplify these concepts so the right people can harness them and bring a new way of life to Earth. It’s a very difficult job, he says, but he’s happy to do it because everything in life should be as simple as possible.

He told me the reason people can get away with selling snake oil is because, for one, so many people are sheeple and will buy whatever you tell them to, but also because snake oil salesmen try to make things complex so you have to buy from them.

He says if you want to make the world a better place, you should take something that’s complex, and make it simple for people. I thought that was particularly apt advice.

Truly deranged? Evil genius? You decide.

After about an hour and a half of chatting, this nameless gentleman I’d been relentlessly questioning exclaimed, “It’s time for me to get to work. Have a good one.”

He stood up and left the store without another word, leaving a small pile of garbage behind, along with a sense of complete confusion and wonderment in myself and those who’d tuned into our conversation.

Magical stone or crystal meth? I'm not sure...

Magical stone or crystal meth? I’m not sure…

Before he left, though, he handed me a small stone, told me it was programmed to match my natural energies, and that within weeks it would help me to attain my biggest life goals. If I ever needed his assistance, all I had to do was carry the stone with me. He’d be summoned through the energy of the universe and would appear to my aid.

I thanked him for the gift and, just like that, he was gone.

Some time has passed now since my interview, and I still don’t know exactly what to think of it. There were moments I thought he might be a genius. There were moments I thought he might need serious psychological help. There were moments I thought he might flip his table over and fly out of the store through a window with a jetpack.

I need more time to figure out what the hell just happened to me. But I don’t need any more time to know that some of the things he had to share were right in line with the rules of Smart Riskology and endeared me to this perplexing stranger.

In any situation, no matter how crazy, I try to find something I can learn from it. So far, I’d say I’ve succeeded at that.

I only wish you could have been there.

Yours in risk-taking,
Founder, Riskology.co

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What smart people are saying about this...

  1. Roger says:

    I was hoping other people would leave comments about stories like this. I have had a few encounters such as this. Sometimes they appear at “just the right time” and I am completely taken in. Other times they are unwelcome, and perhaps because of this, they seem “evil”.
    Sometimes I think I am very astute at reading people, but then other times, such as these encounters, I think “maybe I’m the one whose wrong”. Either way, what is consistently amazing -is some people’s unwavering belief in themselves. “Charisma” I think its called. I know I don’t have it, and am truly in awe of it.

    • Yeah, this guy had some serious charisma. He totally drew me into his little world for a while.

      And you’re the first comment here, so come check back and you may get just the stories you’re hoping for…

  2. Joy says:

    I’ve learned recently that judging someone as bat-shit crazy vs. brilliant can come down to perspective and chemistry (both inter-personal and brain-). Apparently I need to add personal grooming and hygiene to that list.
    Thank you for being open-minded enough to write about your experience. I’ll bet the story isn’t over. :)

  3. Ragnar says:

    Love the new design. I am a bit of a sucker for the simplistic yet stylish! It’s funny how you can learn lessons from the weirdest encounters. I volunteered to stand-in at a Christmas fair for a relative, and learned some important lessons about life and entrepreneurship!

  4. Tom says:

    Ha! Great story, Tyler. I love that you also use the term “bat shit crazy” in your vocabulary. That “stone” he gave you looks to maybe be a melted jolly rancher?

  5. Rich says:

    I’ve always believed that, given enough time, you can learn something from everyone you meet. I commend you for taking the time to talk with this man. Most people would have quickly distanced themselves and missed the experience.

  6. Ernestaysha says:

    Hi Tyler, Been a fan for a really long time and I haven’t commented in a while. This story was amazing! Thanks so much for sharing. I too have found wisdom from listening to a crazy person. This story means more to me than you will ever know. Excellent Job writing this.

  7. Gary says:

    I’ve been able to control the weather but no way near that degree. Of course, I didn’t have 7 people helping me. And I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the same lifetime for 1,000 years but I assume that’s not what he’s really talking about. I wonder why he’s causing his difficulties with women – perhaps he needs the time and independence. Let us know when his book is available. Or when you decide to summon him again. Count me in. Thanx for having the balls to a) talk to him and b) post this! So glad you’re one of my subscriptions that I actually read.

  8. Jackson Anderson says:

    Hey Tyler,

    I think this is my first comment since the redesign so first, it looks awesome!
    New brand name, URL, colours – it all just works so well done to you on that one!
    And secondly, this was a great story!
    It’s amazing the lessons that can be learnt and reiterated through the strangest of encounters.

    I truly look forward to follow up post when you run into him again haha!



  9. Leah says:

    Hi Tyler,

    I met a gentleman last year whilst in Turkey. We got chatting over dinner. He was clearly very well educated, articulate, intelligent. He talked to me about how he couldn’t return to his home country (France) because the government would have him imprisoned. He talked to me about a Remote Control Operating Device which he believed was being used to control him. He also told me about his wife who had died and his daughter who was still in France. The following morning, before I left for my next destination, he gave me an envelope of documents – letters and diary entries he’d been writing. All beautifully hand written in French script. I had no idea what to make of it all. I later met a nurse who specialised in mental health problems. She suggested he may have been schizophrenic. Whatever it was, whoever he was, I remember, more than anything, feeling incredibly sad after that encounter. I think it was something about the way he seemed so lost. I guess a lot of people would call him crazy.
    Now, I’m at home in the UK. My grandma has just gone into a nursing home, suffering from now late-stage Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t know who we are, she talks in riddles, when she talks at all, and spends her days slumped in a chair, or sobbing, or shouting, or singing, when she has a good day. Five years or so ago, when she was still mobile and still able to function to a certain degree in the ‘real’ world she talked about monsters she’d seen in Australia and other strange things – a mixture of reality and fiction. Anyone listening to her would call her crazy too. Except she’s not crazy, she’s my grandma and she’s just stuck somewhere inside.
    Gosh, what do I want to say? The 7 truths that you learned from that guy are great and I agree we often learn most from very unexpected places. But I guess it made me a little bit sad to read your post today, because I’d be pretty upset if someone called my grandma ‘bat shit crazy’ and I do wonder, from time to time, about that man I met in Turkey and what his story was and whether he had any family looking out for him. I wonder too, about the man you met, and what’s going on his life. I guess I have a bit of a close connection to mental health at the moment and I’m thinking a lot more deeply about things that I’d have previously not given a second thought to.


    p.s. Your new site looks great and oh my goodness I can so relate to what you said about trying to have people work on it for you and them just ‘not getting it’ and you eventually just doing it all yourself. Good job! Wishing you a very lovely Christmas and a great start to 2014!

    • Hi Leah,

      I certainly didn’t mean to belittle the guy; we had a great conversation! But I can see how you’d take offense to that comment. Sorry if you thought it a little insensitive.

      This guy is certainly experiencing some sort of mental instability, but through our whole conversation I never felt sad or sorry for him because he seemed to truly be enjoying his life, as unfounded in reality as it is.

      Glad you like the redesign!

      • Leah says:

        Hi Tyler,

        No, no offence at all and no need for apologies – I know everything you write is meant in the best of spirits and that most certainly came across too in this piece. It’s more about my own relationship to this at the moment – I guess it all feels a little too close to me right now. But it’s amazing what we can learn, when we allow ourselves to open up to strangers and live a little in their world…

        Have a great end to the year. I’m sure 2014 is going to be epic!

  10. Nina Messina says:

    it took a lot of guts to engage this person. i think most of us would have been afraid of someone like this… what a lesson learned, the old saying is true never judge a book by it’s cover and this guy had some hidden gems that I am grateful for your sharing with us. Thanks!

    • There were definitely some moments where I worried about what he was going to say next! He had some very disturbing things to say, but he also seemed relatively harmless and just seemed to want someone to chat with for a bit.

      I’m glad I was able to have the experience.

  11. Naomi says:

    I loved this post. Life can be so different and interesting if we try something new and open up to things that we would normally avoid (like the crazy guy). Awesome!

  12. Cristal says:

    Hey there, Tyler!

    First, the re-design is amazing. I absolutely love it.

    Second, thank you for seeing the amazing in the seemingly mundane. Like Leah above, I’m very aware of mental health issues, and found this encounter endearing. It takes kindness and compassion, along with a little courage, to interact with people such as the man you met. I can’t thank you enough for being polite in the way you wrote about him. Writing about and focusing on the strengths of his beliefs, as opposed to the flaws, really places a different light on the situation and this man.

    Thanks a million.

  13. jr cline says:

    Wonderful blog. He sounds very interesting. I’ve spent a lot of hours talking with people who could be described as deranged. There is a lot of interesting and helpful information there. Sometimes they are a breath of fresh air because they see the world so differently.
    I need to go to Burger King and see if the Wiz is still hanging out there.

    • It is refreshing, isn’t it? This guy had a l of disturbing stories, but he also said some pretty fantastic stuff, too. You just have to cherry pick the good stuff…

  14. Dawn says:

    I love this post and #4 has been on my mind since I read it. I always do feel like I need a whole plan – but it’s okay to just take the first step. I need to remember that and this has inspired me to take that first step on a blogging project. I hope to be back with an actual in a few weeks time!

  15. Edwin says:

    Amazing story. There are stories like that waiting in every encounter. We just have to be open to them.

  16. Cyndrel says:

    How I wish I was there too!!!!!! urgh! I love crazy talks like this~~ scary in a way but, it would really make you think~~ and change you in a way no sane person can~~ thanks for writing this Tyler! ^.^

Founded with love by Tyler Tervooren

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