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Silver Dollar Sage
written by: Mark Kuglin
Max was known as the sage of the Silver Dollar Diner and I inherited him when I bought the place. Nobody knew for sure when he first started coming in or where he had come from. If you asked him, he would laugh and say he was a citizen of the world and from no place in particular. For as long as anyone could remember, he had been dispensing advice and telling stories from his usual booth in the corner.
When it came to Max, most people either liked or hated him, there was no in between. He had a way of getting into a person's psyche and cutting right to the heart of the matter. He was brutally honest and you were either ready to accept the truth or you outright despised him. I have to admit that at first, I was of the latter.
I had been an attorney and under an enormous amount of stress. My way of dealing with it had been to have a few cocktails every day to relax. To make a long story short, my few cocktails quickly escalated to many. As a result, I made a series of questionable and unethical decisions that got me disbarred. I bought the Silver Dollar because I was otherwise unemployable. I was very bitter and angry that I had lost everything.
The first time I talked to Max, he walked up-- stood toe to toe with me-- and calmly said, "It's not the end of the world. If you don't get over your anger, it's going to destroy you."
I was livid and it took every bit of restraint I could muster to not hit him. "Back up old man or you're going to get hurt!" I yelled at him.
He just smiled and waited without a care in the world. I outweighed him by a good hundred pounds and he stood there without the slightest bit of fear. Initially, his non-reaction incensed me further but my rage quickly dissipated. The moment it did, I knew I needed to hear him out.
"Step into my office," he said with a chuckle-- while gesturing at his booth.
After we both sat down he said, "Your first name being Will is an accurate description of your problem."
"You're trying to run the show and not allowing nature to take its course. Life is subject to change despite what we think or want."
"I don't believe in preordained destiny," I said. "It's mind over matter. I'm intelligent enough to figure out just about anything...but it's driving me nuts that I can't get my life back on track."
"Will, it's obvious that you're a genius but genius is overrated."
"How can that be?"
"Your mind works so fast you sometimes miss the simple because you're convinced there must be a complex solution. Genius is a double-edged sword, you need to know when to use it and when to set it aside. Life is a combination of the intellect and the intuitive."
"If that's true, how do you know when to use one or the other?"
"You just did without realizing it. I didn't react to your rage and that triggered the intuitive. There was no intellectual reason for you to stop. Until now, we had never spoken to each other. Yet, you knew on a sensory level that you had to listen."
"I guess that makes sense. How did you know I wouldn't hurt you?"
"Many years of practice and learning to trust my own intuition. Over time-- and if you're really paying attention-- you know the truth when you hear it."
"How do I apply that to my life? It's a mess."
"No, it isn't. You're listening to the intellect. Set it aside and you'll see the truth," he said with a smile.
Well, it took numerous conversations with Max but he was right. Many things he told me didn't make sense at the time but they applied later on. I found a sense of peace and joy I never dreamt possible.
Everything was great-- and kept getting better-- until the day Max died. I lost my best friend and felt like I was tossed out of the lifeboat into turbulent seas. Thankfully, the feeling didn't last long. I regained what Max had taught me by keeping him alive in my memories and sharing his lessons with others.