Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Content Taxi Driver

I had a flying trip to London last week for a meeting and got talking to a taxi driver as he took me to Victoria station.
I asked the habitual question, 'Have you been busy?' Then I remembered how much of a ridiculous question that was as he was a taxi driver in the capital of England.
'Yes' he replied.

'How long have you been doing this for?' was my next question.

I watched as he did some quick maths in his head. 'Thirteen years.'

I asked him if he enjoyed it and he said he did.

'Don't you fancy doing anything else?' I asked.

'No, I don't think so,' he replied, looking at me through the rear-view mirror.
'What did you want to be when you were a kid?'

'A professional golfer,' he said.
I could see him smiling as if remembering how amazing that dream actually was.

'What do you do in your spare time? Is there a hobby you do which you could excel in?'
'Nah, not really,' he said.

There was a pause as we snaked in and out of cars, buses and cyclists.

Then he said something which made me smile.
'I'm content, you know.'

'Yeah?' I said. 'That's good.'
'I've never really been one of those ambitious people who reach for the stars and have to have this or that. I'm content driving my taxi and doing it the best I can.'

I continued to listen whilst smiling and looking at the passing scenery of tall buildings, trees and loads of busy people doing their thing.
'I'm not unhappy but I wouldn't say I'm over the moon either. I'm just content with what is.'

I think there are a lot of us who mistake happiness for contentment.

For me, happiness is on the surface and has little depth. It might be short-lived and it comes in bursts. Contentment goes much deeper, but only shows subtle ripples on the surface in the form of a small smile of knowing that all is well.
The taxi driver was content. He didn't need dreams and ambitions to find purpose in his life.

I learnt a lot from him.

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