In my first encounter with Ben Darcie, I was blown away. I’m fairly certain you can’t find a nicer person in Grand Rapids. I had met him at the Friends of Brewery Vivant dinner in August, and we were speaking at a close friend level within 45 minutes. As I planned for this project, I left January 1 open. It’s a holiday, a tough day to schedule people and just a hard day to start anything on.
But as I told him about the project, he basically insisted on being the first person. And I couldn’t be happier with how the day went. Initially, I suspected the first day would be someone like my dad, but the answers Ben provided and the insights he gave will be crucial to the next 365 days.
As we settled at a high-top table at The Meanwhile, drinking our cans of 75 cent Black Label, it was quite obvious he was a good person to go first. His extrovert personality leads him to talk to a wide array of people, and he has lots of good input on a variety of subjects.
Oddly enough, he thinks of himself as egotistical because of the extrovertness. He draws his happiness when the people around him are happy. It feeds his ego to make people happy. That’s just the type of person he is, and it shows. In the first five minutes of the conversation, it had to be stopped to say hello to several different people.
“I love people!” he said. “I give people the minutes they deserve and I listen to them.”
It makes me happy that there are people out there like him. A person who feeds off making people happy. And that helps push him in life. Why live when miserable?
While most people will take the question of meaning of life quite literal and answer with a singular passion, such as brewing, Darcie said it is passions that make life worth it.
Some will say money, others will say God, Darcie said. But when it comes down to it, people who follow their passions will have a great life and the money will follow.
But there are passionless people, and they might even have lots of money but how happy are they?
Darcie told a story of a friend’s dad, who teared up to him on a deck while both a little liquored up. The dad upset he didn’t do anything with his life, other than make money.
“Passionless people, what do they have to live for,” he said. “They’re not pushing, pulling for things that make them happy.
“Passion is doing what you love, for the love of it. And sharing it.”
What is Darcie’s passion? Beer.
And he loves beer. He is the Beer Editor for Revue Magazine, he teaches a 9-week beer tasting course and he knows just about every West Michigan beer person there is to know.
Why? Because he loves beer.
“A passionless person would never start the beer tasting class,” he said. “I started it because I was bored and wanted to share my love of beer.”
Passion can make people leap, and that’s what Darcie did with the class. He reached to make something happen with his passion, and he pulled to make it a reality. If he hadn’t done the class, he would have missed on lot’s of opportunities.
It’s the fear of taking those jumps that hold some people back. And a lot of that fear is comfort levels. As Darcie said, you don’t know if there’s jagged rocks under the surface when you jump. If you jump and break your leg, it’s better for life, you only live it once, and you’ll learn. If there aren’t rocks, you have fun and are successful and makes your life better.
So the best lesson from my conversation with Darcie is: “Live what makes you happy.”
Another fun side conversation
Religion and politics are going to be interesting topics in this series, and frankly, I’m scared of them. But Darcie had two answers that I fell in love with.
For politics, it was quite simple, “If you’re 100 percent one or the other, you’re a liar.”
For religion, he spoke of his belief system, “Anti-box Agnosticism.”
A result of his “religious revolution” at Grand Valley State, it basically states don’t limit what God is. Most religions put God in a strict box where he’s so defined it creates tiffs with the other definitions. If there really is a God, he’s more than just a cloud over a country or region.
“All religions put parameters on God,” he said. “They all refuse to believe that he’s bigger than the box.”
And that’s kind of a paradox, is it not?