Don’t be too patient

If you have an opportunity, don’t let it pass you by.

I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop, one that I’ve logged upward of 1,000 hours at over the past decade or so.

And I’m here for the last time.

After a decade of being Portland’s only 24 hour coffee shop, it is closing its doors forever.

Why? All of the cliched, boring, obvious answers: landlord disinvestment, low margins, market forces. The building is old and unloved, and will probably be torn down and replaced by higher-ticket apartments or condos, like what is happening all over this city.

And like all venerable, quirky, unique sites in cities all over, it will be missed, and there will never be anything quite like it.

While sitting here thinking about all the hours I’ve logged in this place, I was thinking about all my “free drink” punch cards, tons of them, for years, and noting how they are all worthless now.

It’s not a big deal, of course. But this brought up something for me that carries a wider significance.

Wasted opportunities

I have wasted lots of opportunities. Some of them financial, some of them not.

I have had frequent flyer miles that I had a decade to use and didn’t. I have had airlines that outlasted the existence of the airline that they were on.

I have kept jobs years longer than was probably a good idea.

I have been in relationships where I wanted to leave for longer than I wanted to be in them.

And of course, like most people, I didn’t buy Bitcoin in 2011.

Non-wasted opportunities

I haven’t always wasted opportunities. I jumped at the chance to work remotely for my company as soon as I realized it was an option. This allowed me to move from New York City to Portland without having to look for a job, which at the time was a losing proposition.

Soon after I made that move, they shut down that option, which made me feel kind of like this:

Waiting for the perfect moment

You have opportunities. They won’t always be there.

But I have spent much of my life standing and waiting for the perfect moment to take advantage of an opportunity that I had.

And what I’m learning is that those opportunities won’t be around forever.

I haven’t ever run long distances, but I could probably train for a marathon if I wanted. Would I be able to say the same thing in 40 years? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t count on it.

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The time for moving to a different country and starting a new life there? Uncertain, but probably passed.

There are many career paths over the course of my life that I haven’t been willing to commit to, waiting for a better moment.

I could go on and on.

I didn’t really need those free drink cards. I can afford tea when I want it.

But that’s not really the point. This stack of cards from my now-closing coffee shop is a small reminder of a big lesson:

You have opportunities. They won’t always be there. Don’t waste them. Patience isn’t always a good thing.

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