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The Seven Worst Moments in Your Life
How a cross-country journey full of extortion and scams that left me nearly broke, thousands of miles from my nearest friend or family member, taught me to appreciate what I have.
The excitement I felt crossing the Colorado state line melted into panic when I stepped into my new apartment.
A strong chemical smell filled my nose — one I’d later learn came from the fibers of the newly replaced carpet.
I threw open all my windows to air the place out, and was greeted by the sounds of heavy traffic.
Had I picked a terrible place to live? Was moving a mistake?
My miseries multiplied as the day continued. My new apartment had terrible cell reception. The internet connection wouldn’t be hooked up for another few days, leaving me stranded and unable to call any of my family, or the friends I left behind in Florida.
I also had little to entertain myself with in the meantime.
The vast majority of my worldly possessions were in the hands of a moving company. I’d loaded the essentials into the back of my small car, expecting to go at least a few days before the rest of my things arrived.
Days turned to weeks.
When the moving truck driver finally called me, he was demanding an extra $600 on top of the agreed price. Cash, of course.
When I was too slow to respond, the driver told me he was turning around and driving back to Florida with my belongings. Then he stopped answering my calls.
For a few days, not even the dispatchers from the moving company could tell me where my belongings were. I faced the very real prospect of losing everything, and having to start from scratch.
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Good Advice from a Solid Friend
At this point, I’d made a routine of going to the grocery or home goods store to make phone calls in the parking lot. After consulting many family members and friends, I got perhaps the best bit of advice I’ve ever received.
“Try to think of the worst moment in your life,” my friend said.
I sighed. “Okay. it was—”
“You don’t need to tell me, he cut me off. “Just recall it in your mind.”
“Now think of the second worst moment.”
This took me a second longer.
I chewed my lip and really racked my brain.
“Okay.” I sounded less sure of myself this time.
This was getting tough.
Much tougher than expected.
I mentally skimmed through years of memories.
Finally, I locked onto one.
“Got it,” I said.
No hesitation: “The fifth?”
I must’ve stayed silent for a long while.
“Cole?” he asked. “You still with me?”
“I can’t think of one.”
“The highest I’ve ever had someone get was seven,” he said. “Try doing that with happy memories, the best moments of your life. Bet you’ll get a lot higher.”
Know someone you think would benefit from this advice?
That night, I ate standing over the kitchen counter, washing and endlessly re-using the same single glass, plate, fork, and knife I’d packed in my car.
I changed out of one of the handful of outfits I’d packed in my duffle bag.
I slept on the floor, thinking about what my friend had said, all while huffing those familiar fumes emanating from the carpet.
“Well—” I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, “—we’ve got a brand-new carpet.”
Picking Myself up off the Ground
I had two options: I could sit around an empty apartment, wallowing in self-pity. Or I could go do the things I came to Colorado to accomplish.
The next day I found an old Cabela’s gift card tucked into the folds of my wallet.
I bought a new pair of hiking boots and took to the trail, climbing and exploring whatever I could.
I made new friends, and we went new places together.
When my belongings finally arrived, they came as an almost unwelcome interruption to the new routine I had crafted for myself.
The whole experience probably involved even more annoyances and inconveniences, but I honestly can’t remember them.
What I do remember are the new people I met, the breathtaking sights I’ve seen, and the heart-pounding adventures I’ve been on.
I Want to Hear from You
Even in uncertain and isolating times, there are always bright spots to be thankful for. I invite you to share something you’re thankful for in the comments down below.
I’ll go first: I’m incredibly grateful for all of you who continue to read — and hopefully enjoy — my work. Thanks to your continued support, I just crossed the 100-subscriber milestone.
This goal seemed millions of miles away when I began. And I’m excited to take the next steps forward with you.