Monday, April 2, 2012


Serendipity (noun): The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way...

 I do believe that life has been kind enough to hand me what I need when I need it.  People come in and out of my life to shape me into the person that types this post.  There are some people who seem to flutter in quickly, and others who leave a deep permanent impression--as if he stuck his boot in my wet cement sidewalk...

I went to Chattanooga for a series of meetings and interviews.  I was actually excited to have the opportunity to meet with these people, because we have discovered through speaking with different organizations, that we will all have mutual professional benefit from working together.  And since I don't believe in reinventing the wheel, and I like to do things the right way once and use it later, I happily agreed to meet today.

The other reason for my adventure was to interview people for my book.  I can honestly say that I wasn't very certain how this was all going to go.  I was never good at formally interviewing people.  I have the social ability to talk to a wall if needed, so I can carry on a conversation just fine.  But when it comes to asking questions, writing responses, and prompting the guest, I was terrified of what might happen.  Once I met with the liaison, I found that my new friend was feeling exactly the same way.

I don't say this many times in my life, and may not say this again for a long time: my life has been changed from meeting this person.  I know everyone goes about life, bumping into each other and leaving tiny ripples.  But this guy, he smashed his boot right into my cement, and I will never be the same.

We decided to make it a casual interview, and meet for coffee.  This turned into lunch, so we had an opportunity to talk quite a bit.  I knew the interview was not going to go as planned when we sat down and I said:

"So, I am Michelle. I am going to ask you a few questions."

And he responds...

"What's your story?"

To which I can only reply...

"Um... I think I am supposed to be the one asking the questions."

It was an absolutely comical endeavor. We laughed, I was able to vent my frustrations in dealing with all this mess in my head, and I had a person sitting next to me that had already been there and done that.  The great thing is that he was a successful professional being, had a tragic traumatic brain injury, and came out of it a relatively normal human being (which is a lot to say for any of us really).  He is passionate about life, he is thoughtful, asks a lot of meaningful questions, and really wants to get something out of his interactions with people.

I did feel a bit uncomfortable, I must admit.  The only reason is that he served the purpose that I always fill.  At work, at home, and in some of my friendships, people say that I notice random things and always seem to have an agenda in my mind.  I will point out what a person commented, and perhaps the motivation for such comment.  I never realized how transparent I made people feel until I was under examination today.  It seems I was not able to keep any secrets--I was completely vulnerable.

"You like to categorize people, don't you?"

"You always like to leave impressions on people, don't you? Doesn't that become exhausting?"

"Were you a misfit?"

"Were you the ugly duckling when you were growing up? When will you realize you are beautiful?"

"You laugh when you are nervous." (which happened a lot toward the end, because I felt there were few secrets left)

This was definitely not the interview I had planned, but I was beyond thrilled that I made the journey. We walked about the art district for a bit, and I told him about my first ever "date" that I had with a boy. I told him that we were in an art museum, and the boy did not "get" the piece of art.  I know I speak in a very animated style, but I was probably overzealous in describing this painting.  I told all of the parts that made me so passionate about art, and why I loved this piece.  His look changed, and I asked him if something was wrong.

He said, "No, you just made me fall in love with this painting."

It's funny. I hadn't remembered that memory until we walked up to the stairs of the museum.  It seems like it was a lifetime ago.  Indeed it was--my new life started only a few years ago.

At the end of our journey, we talked about careers.  How we are pushed to choose one that has socially redemptive value.  He was an oncologist, which is a highly admired profession.  I told him that I have been teaching for five years, and asked him what was the limit of how long I had to be in a social redemptive field (I was only joking)?

"Five years!! I was going to say six months."


After studying me for a while, he told me that I needed to sell tickets, and not meet criteria.

I apparently looked very puzzled by this statement.  He said I am not a spirit that can be content in meeting up to other people's expectations of me.  Frankly, that can be exhausting for people that don't enjoy rigid structure and conformity.  I need to produce what I have of myself, and my audience will find me.  I think he is a wise man, and will be a terrific partner in this journey.

At the end of our walk, he asked me if this would give me enough for a book.

I told him that got us through about Chapter 1.

And so the journey continues...

No comments:

Post a Comment