Life Lessons from Sal the Pal

sal the pal, an amazing man i met in mexico

There I was tired, hot, hungry and sweaty from painting a dorm and mixing cement for a pig pen. I'd been working in the heat for 4 hours and was ready for a nap, or at the very least, a long relaxing ride back to the hotel. That's when life swooped in with other plans.

I was in Cancun for the What If Conference (some thoughts on last year's experience can be found here). It was Doing More day, where we, as a group, find folks in need and help them however we can. This was our second year in a row in Cancun, so we decided to go back to CIDA, an addiction rehab center that does some fantastic and challenging work. 

It was 5 pm and I was one of the last 6 folks there. We had a shuttle out front to take us back to the hotel, but no driver. At least, no driver we could find. Turns out, Sal, our driver, was inside talking to all the people about how he was addicted to drugs just 4 years ago. He was offering them hope, and letting them know how brave and courageous they were to seek healing from their addictions.

And that's how I met Sal the Pal. The man has an energy that's infectious. In the hour and 15 minutes or so I spent with him talking about life, I learned so much. So, I'd love to share with you a few things he taught me about life...

  • Share what you love with the world - Sal is a shuttle driver. He spends a lot of time taking people from place to place. He loves this because it gives him a chance to talk about all the things he loves. Sal is positive, upbeat, grateful and loves life. You can't help but feel those things emanate directly from the core of his being as he's sharing stories of his life.
  • Gratitude is where it's at - It's easy to focus on all the things I lack in life. Or to look at how things are going different than I expected and to get bummed out about it all. But Sal spoke a lot about being grateful for the life he's been given and the chance to be alive and sharing conversations with people from all over the world. It made me realize that I always have something to be grateful for. Just the fact I'm alive is a miracle enough to celebrate with some gratitude.
  • Energy is contagious - I was so exhausted and just wanted a quiet ride back to the hotel. I ended up in the front seat talking the whole time. Sal vibrates love and positivity and warmth and all those other feel good feels. I couldn't help but feel energized myself. It got me thinking about how both positive and negative energy can affect other's...and that I need to be intentional about the energy I bring to my life.
  • Being honest in who you are and sharing your struggles, gives other permission to do the same - Sal was vulnerable right from the moment we met him. He shared his struggles with addiction, and the changes in his life since he's 'healed his mind,' and that got me opening up as well. We talked a lot about the mind, and how we really can only control the thoughts we think about life's circumstances, nothing more. Sal being open and honest with all of us took the conversation to a whole new level.
  • Living a good story inspires others to do the same - Sal is living a good story. He's happy. He's grateful. He's excited about being alive. But hearing him share what he wanted, his goals, and the challenges he overcame to achieve those goals made his story have more impact. He's living a darn good life, happy doing what he loves and sharing his positivity whenever he can. I want to be more like Sal.
I truly feel we were supposed to meet and I was supposed to have that conversation. Sal the Pal serves as a reminder in so many ways that the principles I strive for in my life matter. That I can serve as a beacon of love and light for all, if I choose to show up, stay vulnerable and be honest in who I am. We're all better people when we share our stories with each other. And in times of doubt and struggle, if I'm not capable of showing up, others will show up for me. There lies the magic of life, my friends.

Note: I gave Sal the Pal my heart sunglasses, because I felt they totally fit his personality and style. I'll forever cherish this picture of the two of us.


Josh Solar

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