I hop on the metro. I'm wearing a pinstriped suit, a collared shirt and a blue tie. I've got a lightweight laptop bag hanging casually over my shoulder. I check my smartphone: four events on my calendar. Lunch with my manager at Giovanni's. Two meetings with important clients. A conference call with my team.
I look around me. There's a woman sitting nearby, reading her Kindle. A man to her right reads the Washington Post. An older gentleman stands nearby, browsing on his iPhone while he listens to an audiobook. I choose to stand.
I walk the city streets of downtown Washington DC with a degree of confidence bordering on all-out swagger. I pass other suit-clad men as they walk past with their briefcases. Probably on their way to the capital building. Lawyers, accountants, senators and judges. I give a disparaging look to a beggar asking for change. How dare he annoy me.
I flash my badge as I enter the building. I'm cleared to continue and I move quickly towards the bay where the elevators wait. As I round the corner, I am caught off-guard and I run straight into a man going the opposite way. My bag falls to the ground and a pile of documents spill out. The man moves to help but I wave him off. "I got it," I say, but in my mind I wonder why this jerk can't watch where he's going.
As I gather my things, my eyes fall on a photograph.
It belonged to me, but it seemed unfamiliar. I hadn't seen it for a long time. I turn my head slightly to one side as I lift it up and examine it more closely.
- - -
- - -
His name was Felipe Evaristo Feliciano. We were friends once. Good friends. In another life. He didn't speak English very well, but he tried his best. We would go grocery shopping together, and he would point to a fruit and ask, "What is this one?"
"It's a lemon."
"Ohhh. Lemon. I like this one. It's nice."
"What is this one?"
"We eat a lot of this one in my country."
Felipe was from Mozambique, where he grew up in a village just outside of Beira. His father passed away while he was still young and he was raised by his mother. That's all I know about his past.
I remember his willingness to learn. He would ask me to correct his English. "Please!" he would say. "I don't feel bad. If you do not tell me, then I will not learn." He had a heart of pure gold. I remember reaching to put on my pair of black dress shoes and finding them already polished and brushed for the day. It happened often. He never said anything and I never said anything but we both knew. He taught me with his example. He showed me of the many ways to communicate clearly without even saying a word. When I think of his humility, his sincerity, his kindness, I begin to remember.
How could I have ever forgotten.
It seems to be an innate human trait to seek validation. To desire to have people be impressed with you. To be respected. To be in demand. To be important.
"Remember, Caesar, thou art Mortal," goes the whispered warning to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's great tragedy. How could Caesar have forgotten? He was drunk with power, insulated by his fame and popularity. His pride blinded him.
The story you just read about me in my pinstriped suit was mostly true. Sure, there was no collision, no photo falling out of my bag. But as I walk around DC, I sometimes think about how terrifyingly easy it would be for me to start behaving like that man. Proud. Arrogant. Condescending.
In some situations, for brief moments, I've actually felt that way. It's shocking, really, that I could forget so quickly that I was a struggling student not long ago, with nothing to my name. I'm no different a person today than I was 6 months ago. So why act like I am?
Ultimately, if fame, respect, or importance, ever causes me to be like the man in the pinstriped suit, then I will have made a grave mistake. It's the modern day selling of the proverbial birthright for a mess of pottage. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? " I hope to never aspire to such a profit. Because once you meet someone like Felipe Feliciano you begin to realize that the inflated egos of successful CEOs, Wall Street brokers, or superstar athletes doesn't amount to a hill of beans when compared to the incredible character of a humble friend.
Here's looking at you kid.
Hey everyone. In case you haven't noticed, there have been a lot of changes in my life. We have a new baby boy, a new job, and we've moved across the country. Along with these changes, I've also changed BryanBraun.com to better fit my future uses of the site. I'll be brief.
I'm Mobile Friendly
Slowly, over time, I've been making incremental changes to the site in order to make it easy to use on mobile phones. It's not perfect but you can now visit the site without having to play the pinch and zoom game all day.
I now have two blogs. My personal blog will continue to contain the same kind of yummy material I've always posted, with an increased emphasis on life in the Braun house. In the past, I've had a tendency to drone on and on, so I will also be making an effort to keep my musings brief (this one is pretty good, right?). For that one person out there who actually reads this regularly, do not be alarmed. I will continue to post here weekly.
My new blog will contain material related to my the work I'm doing in the Web industry. I love this stuff and I can't help but pontificate endlessly about it. It's a bit unfair to subject my poor family to such treatment, so if you like building web stuff and want to geek out with me, you can do it at bryanbraun.com/drupal.
I love to read and with all the time I invest in reading, I've been looking for a way to reflect back on what I've read and share my recommendations with other people. As such, I've decided to put up a booklist containing the books I'm reading and the ratings I'd give them. I'm also hoping that people will see what I like and give me some good recommendations. If a book inspires me, I don't want to keep it to myself. You shouldn't either.
Life is awesome. I wish I could talk about all the incredible changes my family and I have been going through but I fear I would wear out the keys on this laptop. I hope that by opening up my site a little more, I can better share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
I am a runner.
I was a runner in Junior High. I was a runner in High School. I was a runner as a missionary in South Africa. I've run hundreds of miles over the greater Provo area. I've run two marathons, one 10k and many 5ks. I have more races on my list.
I'm not a very good runner. I never really was. Despite my years of running Cross Country and Track, I was never on a varsity team. I never won a race. I never lettered. I wouldn't have even made it onto the BYU Track team. My best mile time (as a sophomore in high school) was 5 min 11 seconds. Good, but not great.
I don't even really like running -- that is, the physical process of throwing up one leg and putting it down in front of you, then doing the same with the other leg, over and over.
For 4 hours in a row, sometimes. It just gets old.
And yet, being a runner is something very important to me. It's something I hope to do for the rest of my life. Running does several positive things for me... things that are essential to living my life in a full and sustainable way.
First, when I run, I am alone. This isn't often a desired outcome for people but being a deliberate person and an unashamed introvert, I enjoy having personal time to think and calibrate. In the busy daily schedule of work, church, family, meals, logistics, following the news, personal projects, etc., I usually don't have the time or bandwidth to ask myself the most important questions: How's my life going? Am I prioritizing things appropriately? Am I Am I still living according to my principles? Do I have goals? If so, how am I doing on them? If not, what goals should I set? Are there bad things I should stop? Are there good things I should start? Am I missing out on opportunities? Is my life in balance? I have found that these quiet moments of distraction free self-reflection are the times when I am most open to ideas and inspiration on changes I ought to be making. Where would I be without these regular meetings with myself?
Second, I run for my health. I have a goal to live to age 100. Running is a great workout for sustained health -- I've seen enough 70-year-olds cruise on past my exhausted frame in the middle of a marathon to attest to that. It's a consistent way to do aerobic exercise, keeping your heart rate up for hours at a time. That means good cardiovascular heath (and cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death worldwide). As for me, my health risk profile says that when I die it will probably be from cancer. Running is my anti-cancer (along with abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, and excessive red meat -- funny how the inspired Mormon code of health, established in 1833, fits perfectly into the Mayo Clinic's research regarding cancer prevention). What's more, it's a behaviorally effective way to exercise. Unlike lifting weights (which I also enjoy), or doing elliptical machines, you can't just give up when you get tired. If you do, you are still 5 miles away from your house.
Third, running helps me learn and explore. Sometimes when I run, I listen to podcasts on a variety of topics. I learn about advances in my industry, economics, design, investing, and spirituality. All these things give me perspective and expand my mind. I also get to explore the running routes. I explore neighborhoods, cities, rivers, and highways. You often see things while running that you don't normally see when cruising by in your car. I like seeing those things.
And fourth, as a bonus, unlike joining a health club or a gym, running is free.
Today I went on a run. While I ran, I realized many things about my professional progress and the next steps I need to take. I received flashes of insight, some inspired from this phenomenal episode of a podcast I was listening to. I got lost (A feat, in that it's hard to get lost when you are running on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. It's one-dimensional. It's like getting lost playing classic Mario brothers). As my 8 mile run turned into a 13 mile run, I had many opportunities to explore. I saw a yellow caterpillar, discovered a hidden wooden owl, and got smacked in the face by a butterfly. Not bad for an impromptu half marathon with no water.
So while I'm not that good and the process may be tedious. I keep on running because my life is benefited in so many ways.
(Note: Huge thanks to my brother Jeff, who has been a big influence on my running activity today)