I couldn’t even see him in the pitch black night. And I never would again.
The dozen of us poured out of the house. It was well after 1am. Late December. The only thing we could see was our breath floating up in the freezing Wisconsin air.
We all were saying our goodbyes, whisper-shouting into the darkness blindly while we opened our car doors frantically.
“Bye Chris!” I shouted.
I don’t even remember what he said in response.
He could have just said “See ya.” Maybe he called me “Tomothy”, his preferred nickname for me. Still makes me chuckle.
We were all freshmen in college, just six months after high school graduation, reuniting at a friend’s house for a belated Christmas party.
I didn’t even really want to go. To this day, I thank God that I did.
I had a blast. I saw friends that I hadn’t seen since graduation. A few that I was still in touch with at the time.
And I was thrilled to see Chris. I hadn’t seen him in half a year. He looked great. And he was genuinely happy to see me, which warmed my heart. Chris was one of the “popular” kids (I wasn’t). His friendship late in high school was something I really appreciated and enjoyed.
We all talked for hours. Joking. Reminiscing. Laughing ‘til our faces hurt.
As we left, I wondered when we would see each other again.
And if it would feel as good.
Well, as it would turn out, we would be together again less than two months later.
But it wouldn’t feel good at all.
See, that night I whisper-shouted “bye” to Chris would be my last moment with him.
When we got together two months later, he was lying in a casket.
Nobody could have predicted it
This isn’t one of those tragedies where someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It’s not a “college party gone wrong” situation.
There was no accident anywhere.
One night in February 2004, Chris was stepping out of the shower in his dorm at Valparaiso University, and he had a stroke.
His roommate found him on the floor.
The Flight For Life took him back to Wisconsin.
For about two long, excruciating weeks, my fellow classmates and I texted, emailed, and instant messaged our way through the details. Trying to make sense of it.
Chris would get better.
He’d show improvement.
Then he’d have another stroke in his hospital bed and be back to Square One.
A friend and I were making plans to visit him in the hospital. She was making him a blanket. I just wanted to see my old buddy.
The night before, we firmed up plans over the phone. Plans that would never take place.
Less than an hour later, she called sobbing and screaming that Chris had hemorrhaged and was brain dead.
I drove to my parents’ house and fell into my mother’s arms, crying almost uncontrollably. I was 18 years old. I had no idea how to process this information.
Her reaction to my pain makes me choke up as I type this.
I have a friendship with Chris’s mother now. She told me that, the next day, after so much back and forth and a roller coaster of events, she finally leaned over her son’s unconscious body and whispered in his ear, “It’s okay. Just go.”
Within a few minutes, Chris’s body let go.
At just 18 years old, he was gone.
Days later, after his body had been harvested for every organ it could (he was insanely healthy, so his organs have saved so many lives), it was put on display one last time for all of us to get together again.
We were all choir kids, so the choir reunited to sing songs so beautiful and haunting and appropriate that I can’t even recount them here because it would do them no justice.
After his casket was carried out and everyone left, I sat in the balcony of the empty church with two friends. The three of us just held each other and sobbed for what felt like an eternity.
I almost missed my chance… and that’s what motivates me
Even though we’re talking about something that happened nearly 20 years ago, I think of the above sequence of events often.
I didn’t want to go to that party.
I was tired.
I was broke – and it was a long drive for someone who didn’t have gas money.
It sounded like most of the people at the party weren’t people I wanted to see.
It wasn’t the “right” time.
But because I ignored all of that and went anyway, I wound up making a memory that I hold very close to my heart.
I would have regretted it so, so much if I had listened to the objections in my head.
I would have missed my last chance to see Chris, give him a bro-hug, and share some big-time laughs with him.
Everything I’ve just explained to you was a pivotal turning point in my life.
It affected me like nothing else did.
It was the start of so much:
- A “seize the day” mentality
- An urgency in my life
- A desire to let go of the “little things”
- A realization that, if I want something, I have to go get it NOW – because it might not be there tomorrow
I work for myself because of this.
WILL you have another opportunity?
Normally, the moral of this story would be to put yourself in Chris’s shoes: life is short, you don’t know when your time is up, act now while you still can!
But that’s not it.
I’m trying to get you to be a freelance copywriter. If you’re dead, then it doesn’t matter.
No, I’m telling you this story to put yourself in MY shoes.
See, I’ve talked to hundreds of writers in the past year and a half, and the most common objection I get to pulling the trigger and building a copywriting business is: “It’s not the right time for me” or “I have to think about it for a while”.
Any time I get that, I just want to scream at the monitor: “WHAT IF THERE ISN’T ANOTHER TIME?!?”
Out there, as you read this, there is a handful of clients that would be perfect for you.
They need steady work.
They have the budget to pay you regularly.
They are actively looking for a writer.
And you, unfortunately, are too busy “thinking” about it.
Waiting for a “better” time.
While you do that, they are going to go find another writer. That writer will have a steady paycheck for the next couple years. That writer will have a successful business.
You’ll still be where you are now.
The opportunity isn’t just about whether or not Solo Copy Empire will be there for you when you’re ready.
The opportunity is about being ready and in front of your dream clients when they are ready for you.
If you miss THAT opportunity, it may never come back.
And you’ll be working twice as hard to build your business because you missed another easy shot.
Virtually all of my success in my 15+ years in this business comes down to timing. Being in the right place at the right time.
But it was never an accident.
It was because I made the right investments, the right actions, and took advantage of the opportunities that came to me.
Don’t listen to that story and think about the stroke that ended my buddy’s life.
Listen to that story and think about the moment that I said “goodbye” to him.
It’s a moment I easily could have missed.
And I would have regretted it forever.
THAT’s the opportunity.
It’s what motivates me personally – and I mean that.
I’m trying to give you a kick in the ass to understand it yourself.
“Tomorrow” may not come.
You don’t have the luxury of time.
Take action now.
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