Isn’t it amazing how one person, sharing one idea, at the right time and place can change the course of your life s history? This is certainly what happened in my life. When I was 14, I was hitchhiking from Houston, Texas, through El Paso on my way to California. I was following my dream, journeying with the sun. I was a high school dropout with learning disabilities and was set on surfing the biggest waves in the world, first in California and then in Hawaii, where I would later live.
Upon reaching downtown El Paso, I met an old man, a bum, on the street corner. He saw me walking, stopped me and questioned me as I passed by. He asked me if I was running away from home, I suppose because I looked so young. I told him, "Not exactly, sir," since my father had given me a ride to the freeway in Houston and given me his blessings while saying, "It is important to follow your dream and what is in your heart. Son. "
The bum then asked me if he could buy me a cup of coffee. I told him, "No, sir, but a soda would be great." We walked to a corner malt4 shop and sat down on a couple of swiveling stools while we enjoyed our drinks.
After conversing for a few minutes, the friendly bum told me to follow him. He told me that he had something grand to show me and share with me. We walked a couple of blocks until we came upon the downtown El Paso Public Library.
We walked up its front steps and stopped at a small information stand. Here the bum spoke to a smiling old lady, and asked her if she would be kind enough to watch my things for a moment while he and I entered the library. I left my belongings with this grandmotherly figure and entered into this magnificent hall of learning.
The bum first led me to a table and asked me to sit down and wait for a moment while he looked for something special amongst the shelves. A few moments later, he returned with a couple of old books under his arms and set them on the table. He then sat down beside me and spoke. He started with a few statements that were very special and that changed my life. He said, "There are two things that I want to teach you, young man, and they are these:
"Number one is to never judge a book by its cover, for a cover can fool you. "He followed with, "I’ll bet you think I m a bum, don’t you, young man?"
I said, "Well, uh, yes, I guess so, sir. "
"Well, young man, I’ve got a little surprise for you. I am one of the wealthiest men in the world. I have probably everything any man could ever want. I originally come from the Northeast and have all the things that money can buy. But a year ago, my wife passed away, bless her soul, and since then I have been deeply reflecting upon life. I realized there were certain things I had not yet experienced in life,one of which was what it would be like to live like a bum on the streets. I made a commitment11 to myself to do exactly that for one year. For the past year.1 have been going from city to city doing just that. So, you see, don’t ever judge a book by its cover, for a cover can fool you.