Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Chance Encounter

Many travelers will tell you that meeting new and interesting people is one of the best things about what they do. Whether it's at a local bar, hotel, museum or park bench, human encounters can often make or break our experiences. Sometimes these new friends are friends for one day only. You share a couple of beers, talk about life, and then go your separate ways. Others will stay with you for a lifetime. They might become your new travel buddy or a long-distance friend. Then there are the ones who belong in a class all their own. They're the life-shapers. The ones who are are just what you need just when you need it. Their presence is generally fleeting, but it can leave a lasting impression.

I ran into such a person yesterday. She and I have known each other for years, but we've never regularly kept in touch. Nevertheless, we somehow manage to run into each other every once in a while in the most random places. This time, it was the downtown Minneapolis YWCA. We saw each other, stopped in our tracks in disbelief, gave each other a big hug, and started a 10-minute catch-up conversation. When we got around to discussing my life, I explained to her that I was in a transition period and not sure where I was going next. "I recently came out of one of those periods in my life," she said. "I know it's tough, horrible even. But when it's gone you'll want it back. Enjoy it. Use the time to discover yourself." Turns out she had used her in-between time to discover yoga, and was now a part-time yoga instructor at the Y. The conversation wrapped up, we hugged again, and parted with a "see you in two years!"

When I stepped onto my treadmill after having listened to her advice, it hit me. She had said exactly what I had been needing to hear. I needed someone who empathized with my situation; someone who didn't just say "it's going to be ok." Someone who acknowledged my frustrations, and then said something new about them. In ten short minutes she had managed to pull me out of my sorry-for-myself slump and into a new appreciation for my situation. She gave me permission to enjoy this time, to discover myself and maybe even discover new interests. As quickly as she had come back into my life she left it again, but her brief reappearance was exactly what I needed when I needed it. Yesterday, she was my life-shaper. I look forward to one day, when we inevitably meet again, thanking her in person.


Christine Gilbert said...

That's good advice, although it's hard to hear at the time. I wish someone could have told me 6 months ago, that it was all going to work out, but you don't know until you know.

Lola said...

Just echoing Christine - Definitely good advice. Can't relate as I'm in that same kinda transition period as well.

PS: She mentioned you might be moving to DC/coming to DC. I always love meeting up with fellow bloggers. Anyways, I've now subscribed to your blog!


Lola said...

Sorry - I mean't "Can relate".

Ha. Quick fingers :)

Greg Wesson said...

A chance encounter gave you exactly what you need to hear. I think I got lucky in that this was a chance blog that gave me exactly what I needed to hear.

I had a crappy day today, getting rejected for a job that I didn't even really want, which I found surprisingly hit me pretty hard. "If I can't even get the jobs I don't want, how am I supposed to get the jobs I do want," I thought to myself.

A few pints of beer and a boat ride along the Thames had me feeling a little better, but still pretty bummed about the whole experience, not just of getting the job rejection, but of deciding to move from Toronto to London. "Perhaps this is an experiment that just isn't going to work out," the worst and darkest part of me thought.

Then what comes along but "A Chance Encounter," talking about transitions, how we should... nay, how we NEED to take advantage of them to learn about ourselves and open ourselves to change.

And it turns out that it was just what I needed to hear.

Thanks for posting this. It turned my day around.


Tanya said...

Christine: True, it is really hard to hear and to believe. I think that's why this moment stood out to me. I actually did believe it! She said it in the right way.

Lola: Yes, I'm hopefully moving to DC later this fall. I would love to meet up with you! Stay in touch.

Greg: Thank you so much for your comment. I'm so glad my post was able to help you out today. My friend's words are having a great chain reaction!

Nomadic Matt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.