Thursday, January 18, 2007

These friends of mine

Ever wonder if your life is random or deliberate? Are we all living out a script that has perhaps already been written for us since time began?

I've been telling people since I was old enough to talk that I picked my mom to be my mom before I was born. I still believe that.

There are people I meet who are so familiar to me. My soul recognizes them instantly and there is a rich, deep connection. It's as though I have known them more than a lifetime. They are friends of mine that have always been.

I squint my eyes and think long and hard and try to remember them from before I met them.

Sometimes when I'm walking down a crowded sidewalk I wonder if I could have met or seen any of those people before. Masses of seemingly unfamiliar faces passing me by completely unaware of my presence and me of theirs. But perhaps I have connected with a few of those faces before. Perhaps we met while on vacation somewhere. Or maybe we have driven behind each other on the highway or they are a cousin to someone I know or I went to kindergarden with them or I read their blog or we've exchanged emails back and forth.

A friend and I have an agreement to pay the other person $20 if either of us runs into someone we know while we're on vacation together. It will happen at some time or another. I really believe that. I want to be the one who wins.

(not for the $20 but I want to run into someone I know in some obscure place far, far away.)

In 1987, I drove up to Seattle from San Francisco all by myself. Between Shasta, California and Centralia, Washington, I noticed the same car passing me at times and other times, I would pass them, but we drove alongside, behind and in front of each other for a long stretch of hours. They were my traveling buddies. Then... without any warning, they exited off the highway without even a wave or a toot-toot of the horn.

I remember missing them the rest of my drive. I thought they could at least motion to me through the window that they were exiting. Give me the option to exit, too. I laughed when I just wrote that. What a silly imagination. But their traveling beside me really did help me feel safe and the journey didn't seem as long. They were like my angel friends. Unknown people who help me on my way.

I believe our life is lot like that journey. There are people just like the travelers, who come into our lives at a particular time and they complete the job they are supposed to do and then move on. Others stay the course; we can not imagine not having each other in our lives at all times.

There's another set of friends we disconnect just for a time. Be it a marriage or a move or a life change that has distracted us being friends for a time. I really believe we will all be connected again.

Have you ever dreamed of someone you haven't thought of in years, and the following day you bump into them at a grocery store. Or they call you on the phone. See what I mean?

A couple years after I solo-drove to Seattle, I was flying home from a business trip in Chicago ... but stopped in Denver to spend New Years with a friend in Aspen. It was a fun flight; the plane was nearly empty so the flight attendants passed out complimentary champagne to everyone while we sang auld lang syne. I sat next to a woman who worked for Hewlett-Packard. Two years later, I am on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco and in mid-flight, she turns around in her seat and sees me sitting there across the aisle and behind her one row. She says, "Weren't you on that fun flight to Denver with me?!"

Such a small world! We talked a few minutes, waved and went on. But that wasn't the end of it. Maybe it was another year or two that had passed and I boarded a crowded airport shuttle to take me home when I see her sitting there next to an empty seat. We both recognized each other instantly and she motions for me to sit with her. She still worked for Hewlett-Packard but had gotten a job transfer near my home. What a coincidence! Again! She handed me her business card and I told her I would show her around town. I meant to call her. But. I got busy and the house needed cleaning and I had to do laundry and go on that road trip and eventually I misplaced her business card and time went on.

Later that year, while reading the newspaper, I read about a horrible car accident and a woman was killed. I recognized her name as the same woman I kept meeting over and over again. The shock and sadness soaked my shirt.

Who was she? Why did we keep meeting in so many different places? What did that mean? Would my life be different if we ever became friends? Is my life already different because we missed that connection?

Friends in my life. Friends for all time. Friends still unknown and unmet. You and I. We are connected. And I appreciate you. More than you'll ever know.


Kelly said...

Shawn, I am your sister and I have been lucky enough to know you for over 40 years. I am so glad that we are sisters. See you soon.

danny said...

shawn! I agree with every word! I too have had similar circumstances...I think everyone we meet, and especially every friend we have is a gift.

Doodlestreet said...

Oh man! What an outstanding and insightful post! I think about those things all the time! (who let you into my brain???) just kid.

Just this last week, there was that story about the one boy in Missouri who was kidnapped (by that creep), but when the police found him four days later in the creeps apartment, there was another boy there that had been kidnapped four years earlier. They were BOTH rescued and returned to their families. If it had not been for the second boy being kidnapped, they would not have found the first boy. For the first boy (his name was Shawn, by the way), the second boy, Ben, was his angel, and someone who came into his life by chance...and by chance saved his life and returned him back to a family who loves him.

Amazing. It makes you kind of wonder, what people came into our lives and who may have changed out life's path. I wonder if it IS all pre-destined. I wonder...

mac said...

Beautiful post. I believe this too.
P.S. I hope I win on our next venture.

violetismycolor said...

Our life philosophies are so similar! I believe we pick our families, too, and we have agreements to meet our friends while here. Glad to meet you, kindred soul.

ValGalArt said...

yes, you are so right about all of this! I enjoyed this very much! I'll be seeing you...

roz said...

Oh man, what a fabulous post. I have a similar philosophy and I am forever wondering about the random people I meet to whom I feel such an instant connection with.
It's just so fascinating.

Here's to the things we can't explain but know they mean something!


Jim Pearson said...

ShawnE - I've really been enjoying your recent posts tremendously, but this one takes the cake - it's just wonderful. Your imagery and the emotion behind your thoughts are beautiful and thought provoking and go right to my heart too. Thanks for your friendship, and please continue sharing your thoughts and feelings and insights with us.

paula said...

Thought-provoking, Shawn. An excellent post, as usual!

Rayne said...

I agree with you. People seem to move into my life just when I need them too.
What a shock it must have been to read that woman's name in the paper.
I had a similar experience while living in Tacoma. A friend had shot himself in the head, he was in very serious condition (obviously) and I was standing with him in the emergency room. They decided to air lift him to a Seattle Trauma center and I stayed holding his hand until the helicopter crew came in to take him away. The pilot was the nicest man, I mentioned to someone later that he must have been the template that hollywood used for all of their heroes. He was polite, in charge, caring, strong, brave, handsome, the whole package.
A few months later I read in the paper that the pilot had died in a crash due to mechanical failure. I was so shocked and saddened.

Michele said...

Yep, I wonder this all the time. So many strange little threads seem to fatefully string people in my life to me.

Wow, your connection with that woman on the plane was interesting. What are the odds? I mean that seriously. Out of the millions of people and all the flights...hmmmm. It's fun to ponder.

More and more I wonder how random things are. Recently my interest was peaked enough to pluck a book off my shelf (my husband's) about chaos theory. I'd like to tell you more about it, but I lost it during a little trip to the Emergency room, when I brought it along. But from what I did read, in nature there are more patterns in things that have always seemed random and chaotic, fractals - for instance, and all through out nature.

I guess I'll have to go to the library and check out another copy to tell you more. But it's fascinating stuff, just like your blog posts.

I should be going to bed right now, but you've written some interesting and thoughtful stuff, so I just had to respond.