Life Lessons at The Red Caboose

Since the days of my disdain for older people, I have grown to have a deep appreciation for the insight and experiences that my parents, professors and older peers can provide. Yesterday, I was privileged to meet up with my human rights professor, Ray Ruggerio, for a long afternoon spent sharing stories while sipping on iced tea outside of StarSea’s famous red caboose in Railroad Square. There are only a small handful of teachers that have had as strong an impression as Ray has on my academic and personal outlooks. His tales of worldly travels, advice on academic pursuits and general outlook on life are truly inspiring.

I was blessed to be Ray’s student for three years, studying the realm of human rights. With his guidance, I produced my proudest work: a twenty page research piece entitled “Genocide of Homosexuals in the Holocaust.” I worked on that paper for more than two years, and with Ray’s help it evolved into a true example of my academic success.

Anyways, I wanted to share some of the greatest bits of wisdom that I gained during my three hour lunch with Ray. Some of these are directly from his words, and others are thoughts that I developed while basking in the Tallahassee breeze with my adored professor. (And one occasion that occurred on my way home.) These are words to live by, ideas to base your lifestyle around.

  • Measure your life in threes. This was the easily best bit of wisdom that Ray shared with me. Think about it, your life is hardly measurable on a yearly-basis, but counting by threes really makes sense. For instance, I am entering my next life cycle in a month when I turn 22. This clicked for me, because I am undoubtedly at a point in my life where I see major shifts in priorities, passions and opinions. Celebrate birthdays, but measure by threes.
  • Always give more than you receive. In fact, don’t think about receiving at all. If it happens, great – if it doesn’t, continue to give. The moment a relationship becomes about getting rather than giving, the entire dynamic has changed.
  • Write a letter or note by hand. Perhaps only once a week, but get back into the habit of handwritten communication. Send your parents a simple note of love, write a ‘Thank You’ to someone who helped you, contact a long lost friend across the country. Our cyber-driven generation has lost appreciate for the art of snail mail.
  • Escape your materialism. This is something that I have been working on for a while. I began college consumed by notions of money and status, and I think that everyone will come to realize that paper currency does nothing for your soul. Surrounding yourself with materialistic foolishness blinds you from the natural glory that surrounds you. Maybe it’s just me, but hiking to the top of a mountain and watching the birds swoop down the cliff-side is vastly more satisfying than working forty hours to be able to afford a new piece of expensive material. The people that truly matter in your life won’t care about what you’re wearing, what you’re driving or what kind of house you live in. The quality of your spirit is what will make the difference.
  • Wave to little kids. On my way home from lunch, I was driving through a rough side of Frenchtown. I saw a group of little children approaching the sidewalk I was about to pass, and watched as their mothers yelled at them to slow down. As I cautiously drove past, the children began to wave at me with expectant smiles. I waved in return, and their beaming grins were an indication of how much my simple gesture meant to their innocent souls. Take time to appreciate little ones, and their untainted love for the world around them. Kids have the best spirits, and we could all learn a thing or two from their simple outlook on life.
  • Unplug to tune in. I plan on discussing this at great length in an upcoming post, but the basic concept is as follows: take out your ear puds, unplug your iPod, and tune into your surroundings. I used to trek across campus blasting my music and ignoring everything around me. One day, I left my headphones at home and was unwillingly forced to walk to class without my iPod. During my short journey, I realized how much I was missing out on when I tuned out. Birds are chirping, sorority girls are telling laughable anecdotes, and people are paying attention to what’s going on around them. Try it, I promise you’ll be impressed by the difference it makes when you unplug and tune in to the greatness surrounding you.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but you can bet that I’ll be back with loads of positive life lessons and positive ways of approaching the world. I wish I could share everything that I took away from the time I spent with Ray, but there are some amounts of wisdom that cannot be translated into words, but can only realized through experience. I bid you adieu, my loyal readers. Until next time, keep spreading the good vibes.

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Categories: Quotes, Stories & Odes

Author:Katie Boué

Katie Boué is the voice of TheMorningFresh.com - a travel lifestyle blog focusing on climbing, Airbnb life, and the outdoors.

3 Comments on “Life Lessons at The Red Caboose”

  1. dena harrington
    September 19, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Another beauty, my Katie!

  2. September 23, 2010 at 2:10 am #

    Keanu Reeves said he still prefers to write letters the old fashioned way. I am not sure what else could be more motivating.

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