Be “A Dan”


So, every Saturday morning when I go for my sunrise beach run, I see the same man walking the beach. Usually I am already running and we just smile and wave as we pass. But, the other week, I was standing and looking at the ocean when we crossed paths. So, I said good morning, and he said, how ya doing? I raised my arms up and answered, how can I be anything but amazing in this place?! He agreed, and we started talking.

I learned his name was Dan.

And I also learned he is just the type of person I want to be like.

The funny thing is whenever I passed him on my runs in previous weeks, I wondered if he was a once a week-er like myself, or if sunrise beach outings were a daily ritual for him. I found out it was the latter.

After our five minute conversation, I learned that Dan was a retired Vietnam vet who moved down to Navarre about 20 years ago, and that each morning he drives down to walk the beach at sunrise. Oh wait, his wife makes him a double espresso shot, then he drives down to the beach for a walk. Espresso and a sunrise beach walk. Every day for 20 years. You hear the term goals a lot. I’d definitely say that’s goals.

He knew all about the wildlife in and out of the water, (our conversation started talking about the Herons, how cool/funny they are to watch, and how they sneak up and try to eat fisherman’s fish) is a marine conservationist, avid paddle boarder, moved here totally on a whim, and was such an easy guy to talk to. He was just so darn happy and enthusiastic about life…at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning. He said it was the double espresso shot. I think it’s just the way he is.

Then he pointed out the man who was fishing a little ways down the beach, and they smiled and waved at each other. He said, “That’s Dang. He’s either fishing here every morning, or is out on a shrimping boat. You know what’s cool? He’s from Vietnam, and we figured out we were both in the same village at the same time back in Vietnam.” I couldn’t help but smile at that. The things you learn when you actually talk to a person can be pretty amazing.

Dan was SO cool.

We said good bye, and he even remembered my name. Then I started on my morning run with a smile, feeling happier, and a bit more invigorated than usual. I even got a smile and good morning wave from Dang as I ran by him. I asked him if the Heron were stealing any of his fish. He laughed.

Meeting a person who is just imbuing with genuine joy is contagious like that.

So I decided I want to be a Dan.

You know, a light in someones day, without even trying.

The type of person who takes time to get to know someone (even for a quick two minute conversation), has an infectious personality, doesn’t take themselves too seriously, and isn’t afraid to spread enthusiasm on to a stranger. Its such a breath of fresh air when it seems like so many people are scared to talk, more interested in themselves (or their phone), counting their have-nots instead of blessings, and don’t even make eye contact.

I’m sure he’s had some major ups and downs, some days are better than others, and some people ignore him when he walks by on the beach. But he just loves life. You could tell by the way he talked about things and looked at his surroundings. There was just this subtle been there done that, trust me, this is amazing, enthusiasm. And it made me love every aspect of my life at that very moment even more.

Has he always been like that? Who knows. But he sure left a great impression on me.

And I look forward to talking to him again when I go on my early morning run.

Because I’m pretty sure he’ll be there.

Maybe I’ll bring him an extra shot of espresso. Or two.

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