I don’t care if you believe in Christianity, Buddism, Mormonism, Matrixism (yeah, that exists), or whatever Tom Cruise worships – you have to know that some things happen for a reason. Maybe it’s something simple like escaping a write-up because you randomly left the dorm room to go to the bathroom. Or maybe it’s something extraordinary like sitting next to a random stranger on an airplane that informs you of a college that, unbeknownst to you, will someday be the school you attend; these moments happen. In fact, right now I can guarantee that you can think back to an event that’s happenings were so random, but the results so crucial, that there must be some sort of force behind it. There must be. The following story is one of those times, one of those miraculous moments, one of those mind blowing “ah-ha” instants that in 10 minutes shaped who I am and who I someday want to be.
I walked into a local diner in my town (the only diner in my town as I live in Maine) for a lunch that will hopefully be made of the delicious potato version of freedom otherwise known as tater tots. I sit down, order God’s food gift to Earth, and for once in my life try not to be friendly with the people around me. It’s not that I don’t like my town, not that I don’t like talking to people, and not that I was in a bad mood. I just really wanted to eat some tater tots and knew that seeing someone who recognized me and wanted to talk about local small town gossip would be as annoying as when Pluto was denounced from being an actual planet. I was annoyed with a town that’s population is under 1,000, and I could give you over 1,000 reasons why.
The location for this incredible experience is right in the middle of a food bar. To my right an older couple scavenging their food and to my left a man I would describe as what I believe an older, nerdy version of Nicholas Cage would look like. I continue to mind my own business as I read the newspaper and the waitress eventually brings out the only cure to my tater tot hungering disease. Turns out Older Nerdy Nicholas and I happen to share a love for deep fried potato, and we ended up ordering the same meal. I look over to the gentleman and say “great choice in meal,” which sparks a conversation I will never forget. This unreal experience lasts 10 minutes and starts with the ever enthralling topic of condiment use but somehow evolves into how Old Saint Nerdy Nick thinks today’s generation of literature is “just garbage.” I nod my head and agree that most of today’s ‘top sellers’ should be titled “50 Shades of No Way.” This mysterious man laughs, pays his bill, and then eventually says goodbye. Moments later I finish eating and go to pull out my wallet when the waitress interrupts and says, “No need, your meal has been paid for already.” I murmur in confusion, “Wait, that guy just paid for my food?” In which the waitress responds, “No honey, Stephen King just paid for your food.”
This story, ladies and gentlemen, was extraordinary to me for four particular reasons. One, it was THE Stephen King, one of the greatest writers ever. He is to writing what Cheney is to curing hangovers or what Gronkowski is to getting your hopes up that he is going to actually play in a game. Two, the sheer humbling aura of the entire place was earth shattering to my psyche. He might be one of the greatest creative minds ever, but he talked to everyone in the dinner as equals. Three, I don’t know if I said this before, but it’s Stephen ‘I’m the reason people are afraid of clowns’ King. The fourth reason, and most important reason, is that it was a true “ah-ha” moment for me.
Walking into that meal I had two goals: to eat ‘till I possibly got a potato overdose and to not see anyone I knew I put myself in a category above my hometown inhabitants and would even consider it a bad meal if I really had to deal with any of them. But yet, here is Stephen King, who has multiple millions in the bank, a plethora of world renown writing awards, and the ability to live wherever he wants. So, why on earth did he decide to go to a small town diner in an area that doesn’t even have a gas station? The answer is simple; he understands that this hometown, these beginnings, and these weird tot-loving people are what led him to success.
This small town in Maine equipped him with the arsenal of lessons that he used to reach stardom. How can he be above the place that made him who he is today?
In that moment of having my bill paid and my mind rocked I had an “ah-ha” moment. I, just like Stephen King, have every shred of success owed a small town that raised me; no matter how much I may hate or love them at times, I realized that these people made me who I am today and I decided to make an oath to myself. I swore to always understand my roots, to know exactly where I came from, and to give the respect to the place that raised me. Stephen King proved that [the] key to success is accepting your upbringing and empowering yourself with where you came from. The man still writes stories with features from towns of Maine and is constantly quoted as saying that he owes the entirety of his accomplishments to Maine.
Regardless of whether the experiences were positive or negative, they have given you drive to get you to where you are today. Honor your home as it has taught you the goals, mottos and aspirations that have gotten you this far and with good use will bring you even more success. Because at the end of the day, if you don’t understand where you came from, how can you ever understand where you are going?