A few weeks ago, I had the blessing of speaking at the memorial service of a lady named Thomasine Talbert. She was a close family friend and my fourth-grade teacher. In eulogizing her, I told the audience about how she had assigned my class a major project researching every American president. What that did at such a young age was solidify for me a love for presidential history and biography. That love came in handy years later when I lived in South America and spent hours, hundreds of hours, no, thousands of hours standing at bus stops and riding buses. (We did not own a car, so I always took public transportation.) To give you an idea of the time frame I am talking about: my record for waiting occurred one winter’s night standing on the Argentina prairie for an hour and a half in 35° weather before my bus came. I am an active person, and early on, I realized I had to do something or else go stir-crazy.

I started carrying a book with me to read while waiting. I began reading the definitive biographies of various presidents. For example, I read the entire six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln written by Carl Sandburg. (A good read, by the way.) 

Eighteen months into my life in South America, as I became more proficient in Spanish, it dawned on me that language truly makes a difference. You don’t have simple word-to-word translations; there is more nuance involved in going from one language to another. I started thinking it would’ve been a lot better had I paid attention and worked harder in my classes in college, especially my New Testament Greek classes. So I commenced doing something I should’ve done before as an undergraduate and a graduate student. I embarked on a journey to study and worked hard to learn. 

I opened up my old Greek textbooks and worked through them. I read books that I had never read before. I read thousands of pages about New Testament exegesis and theology, including every entry of an 800-page dictionary of theology. 

Every entry. 

It’s a whole lot easier to pay attention to the obscure words of theology when you’re standing by yourself at a bus stop for an hour and a half. Any stimulation, even intellectual stimulation, would give you relief from standing and waiting. I read Bertrand Russell’s, A History of Western Philosophy. I read the works of economic philosophers and economists. (My favorites were Milton Friedman’s books.) I read the works of authors who shared my opinions and those who did not. 

As my Spanish improved, I began reading great books of Spanish literature. I also read a multivolume history of Argentina, which gave me a better understanding of that great country and South America.

Rather than completing my education, all of this whetted my appetite for more. It created a desire within me to become a lifelong learner. Four years after we returned from South America, I had the opportunity to go back to graduate school and study for another Master’s degree (Master of Divinity) in a program requiring 84 semester hours of classwork. After that, I entered my doctoral program. (Sidenote here: shoutout to the anonymous donors who paid for 75% of my master’s work and 100% of my doctoral work in scholarships. What a blessing!)

There is so much that I have absorbed that I have not been able to use. The reason is very simple. No one cares. And quite honestly, to be fair, many of these things cannot help them in their everyday lives. But that is OK. What I have learned has opened doors and blessed me greatly, especially in creating habits that stay with me to this day. 

Good habits. 

Over the last ten years, I have relentlessly tried to study the business world; for the past 52 weeks, I’ve been trying to find out about the publishing business as I’m preparing to publish a book. And to think, all this initiated from standing at bus stops.

What is the bus stop in your life?

How can you take advantage of it and turn it into something meaningful and productive?

You can email me your answers.