I was having dinner with a couple friends when I heard a familiar voice from the side. I looked over and saw his trademark big hair and glasses, so I knew it was him.
I got nervous and a million things went through my mind as to what to say. It’s not every day that you see a huge influence in your life sitting across from you.
How do I say hello? Do I tell him of his importance to me becoming a writer? Everyone is at dinner so I don’t want to disturb them, it’s not really polite to ask for a picture or a million questions.
I thought about the first time I read his book "Choose Yourself", which was something unlike anything I ever read. I related to his attempts to hide from the world while hungover, feeling exceptionally lonely due to a breakup, anxiety of a business failing, the sky falling.
But here we were, in New York City, random restaurant, sitting three feet away from each other, both a long way away from those failures, as if the universe had this planned all along.
I asked aloud, "James Altucher?” and he turned around, smiled, then said “Hi, how are you?” I extended my hand to introduce myself, then looked at him and thanked him with the most gracious appreciation that I’ve ever gave to anyone, seeing that he was my inspiration to start writing.
I thought about the introduction afterwards; imagine being in his shoes where people come up to you with gleaming eyes and want to spill their guts to you for being their inspirations or idols. Do they take it for granted? I wouldn’t know how to handle it, such a humbling experience. I couldn’t imagine what it’s like to be a Michael Jordan or Derek Jeter.
What do we expect out of our idols? I prefer someone that has been through the struggle and comes out a better person, yet is trying to achieve that progress on a daily basis. I want them to have flaws because no one can relate to perfection and any expectation that they must be perfect is unreasonable.
James writes mostly about his flaws and how he bounced back (or didn’t) from them; relating to people with his experiences is more helpful than advising people on what to do when you don’t have a clue, that’s why I appreciate his work; it’s real.
Because that’s what we want our inspiration to be; real, like us.