"Do you want to draw with me?"
I looked down and saw a well-mannered little girl with big brown eyes and calm energy staring up at me.
I was at the place where I volunteer. Families eat and kids come to a certain area, do their homework, and play games.
As a volunteer, I get chosen by a kid or I join them in whatever they're doing.
"Yes," I said to this little angel looking up at me.
But what I said in my mind was, "Sweetie, there is nothing I want to do more than draw with you."
"Let's get some markers," she said.
We sat down at a table and I watched her draw a picture of a little girl walking an animal. It was so creative.
"That's such a cool drawing. What grade are you in?"
"First grade," she murmured without breaking her focus.
"Do you like being creative?"
"Yes," she whispered.
There was no agenda behind her actions. She just wanted an adult to sit and draw with her.
Her mom came by and spoke Spanish to her.
"Hablas Espanol?" I asked her seconds later.
She nodded again.
"Cool! People who can speak two languages are so valuable."
"Do you want to make a spider with me?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I do."
We walked over and got the spider-making materials and I watched her not only make a spider, but make a background for her spider.
It was so imaginative.
"I'm going to eat with my mom."
"Okay, I'll be around."
Minutes later, I felt the energy of a little angel by my leg again. I looked down and two big, brown eyes tugged at my soul. "Do you want to play a building game with me?"
We played a building game on the carpet and I realized what the scene meant.
In that moment, as my little friend stacked Jenga blocks on top of each other, some of my most complex life choices were validated. Someone—my grandma Mary Jane—encouraged my creativity when I was little, and it saved my life later.
Instead of going too far with substances as a teen, I went home and listened to my Eminem album.
Instead of driving drunk in my 20s, I got a ride. A DUI would have made writing even harder.
Instead of doing what society said I was supposed to do, I lived below my means and put out books like Entrepreneurship for the Cool Kids.
I'm a human being and every day I wonder if some of these career-oriented choices were right. Should I have become a nurse, an accountant, or an office worker? Should I have stayed a Realtor? Where's all this going? What's the point of living like this? Why go through these challenges?
The presence of that little angel brought the meaning of my choices to the surface.
This child wanted to share her unique gift with someone who knows how special it is, and I was that person—I had made choices to become that person.
Nurturing the creative talent of a youngster is my way of thanking my grandma. It's my way of celebrating the person I've become. It's my way of giving back.
I have to remind myself that this can't be bought or faked. It's not a car, a degree, a house, or a trophy wife. It's a feeling—it's an emotional exchange that's earned from a collection of uncomfortable choices that no one but you understands.
Maybe, just maybe, that's what a fulfilled life is.