Updated: Oct 28, 2017
People come in and out of our lives every day.
Sometimes you pass by somebody on the street and they affect you.
You share a brief moment, and that's it, they are never in your view again.
Sometimes people come into your life and you share many moments and they affect you forever. People have the opportunity to have a great impact in your life. Knowingly or not, you impact others.
In my travels, I have met extraordinary human beings, and I wrote about them in my journals. Here are a few of those encounters.
First day of college in Florida...
I have my track of classes together.
I want to be a psychologist and I have a long way to go. I walked into my first class on my first day of school. Psychology 101. My butt hit the seat and this overly perky girl came right up to me.
“Hi. My name is Cece. Do you want to be my friend?”
“Sure. Do you want to know my name?”
“Nope. Not really. Want to go dancing tonight?”
That night was so much fun. I was wearing my favorite dress, and I must have danced with every person in that club. At the end of the evening, Cece told me she was thinking about dropping out of school and traveling with the Renaissance Faire. This is the second time this week that I have heard of the renaissance faire.
My friend that I hang out with on Thursdays told me she was leaving for the Ohio Renaissance Faire this next week, and I am going to miss our weekly visits.
I asked Cece what renaissance faire she was thinking of working at. She said, “Ohio.”
I dropped out of school the next morning.
We left the next week, Ohio bound.
She has some friends there that might get us a job. I have no idea what I will be doing for work.
I have a tent to live in. I worked at the Renaissance Faire for six months, both in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I lived in my tent. I got a job as a Dench a Wench. I sit on a diving board and scream profanity all day while people come by and throw tennis balls at a target to make me fall into a giant tub of water.
I lost my voice every day. It was so fun! I met the most interesting people and had some of the best times in my life. Cece and I parted ways after six months.
Thank you for the adventure, Cece.
Working as a therapist in Arizona...
Client is a homeless man named Sal.
I have been seeing Sal in my office for two months now. He is a homeless war veteran and maybe the smartest man alive. He talks and talks and I can't stop listening.
I purposely don't schedule anyone right after him in hopes that he will just stay and talk.
He knows about physics and literature and art. He is the sweetest old man and he doesn't want a home. He sleeps in the park and is completely content.
Sometimes he talks about the Korean war and how he feels about his experiences.
He tells me why he has to drink himself to sleep every night.
He's got four jokes and I hear them every week.
Today's session was extra special because he brought me a box of old beads that he found and he was so proud to give them to me.
“Look what I found for you” he said. “I have been carrying them around for a few days now. I think you will like them.”
He gave me his biggest smile.
Sal left my office that day and drank as usual. He passed out in the park as usual. That night, three college kids hit him over the head with baseball bats, poured gasoline over his body, lit him on fire and drove away.
He burned to death.
Thank you, Sal, for your company, your intelligence, your contribution to the war, and the beads that I still have.
On a plane from Johannesburg, South Africa to Durban, South Africa...
I flew into South Africa from India today.
I had a connecting flight from Johannesburg to Durban. I was so nervous because I am alone and I don't know what I am getting myself into. A woman is supposed to pick me up in Durban and drive me to a hospice, where I will live and work, and that is all I know.
I found my connecting flight and there was an older woman sitting alone in the waiting area. I walked by her and noticed she was reading a book that I love.
I felt a compulsion to tell her that I enjoyed the book she was reading.
She said thank you and continued reading.
I went to the restroom and then walked around the airport nervously like I always do before a flight. I noticed that after a while there were a lot of people waiting to get on the plane. It was time to board and I always want to be the last one to get on.
I have such flying anxiety and I fly so much. It doesn't make sense.
I got on this huge, full plane and I found my seat.
I looked over to see who my seat mate was and it was that older woman with the book.
We looked at each other and laughed.
I sat down and got myself as comfortable as I can get. As we took off, she looked over at me and said, “We obviously need to know each other. Look how many people are on this plane.” I laughed. She asked me why I was flying to Durban.
I told her that I was coming here to work at a hospice to teach doctors and nurses how to care for people while they died. To teach people how to not burn out and how to sincerely care and love people while they are dying.
I asked her what she was doing flying to Durban.
“I am a hospice worker. I hold people while they pass and care for the sick and dying in Johannesburg. I am coming to Durban to vacation and see my daughter.”
We both laughed and were dumbstruck by this chance meeting.
In that hour flight, I asked about everything I was nervous about. She told me so many things I needed to hear. I felt at ease and not alone.
It was a perfect meeting.
As the plane touched down in Durban, she said, “Don't worry. You are obviously doing exactly what you should be doing. What are the odds that we would meet otherwise?”
I hugged her and said thank you several times. I lived in South Africa and worked for many months. I had the honor of holding hundreds of people while they passed.
I got to teach doctors and nurses and caregivers how to care for people that were in the last days and hours of their lives. I held babies and grandmas and showed others how to do the same so that no one would have to be alone when they were passing away.
I wrote booklets on self-discovery and handbooks for doctors and nurses to keep for reference in care.
I wrote a children's book for a children's hospice about these subjects in the way kids who are dying can understand it.
I got to do everything I wanted to do there.
I don't know what that woman's name is that I flew with on that one-hour plane ride. I do know that she made a lot more possible for me with her wisdom and understanding.
Her being right there that day was the perfect reminder that I was where I should be.
Thank you, plane friend for everything. People encounter you. It is unavoidable. You are somebody to the people you meet.
The more you are in touch with yourself, in your own life, the more you will be aware of the people that impact you.
People come and go.
Some stay for good and some expire.
The right person can just be there for the right moment.
I promise that every person you happen upon is important to your life in some way. That is for you to discover. And even more exciting, is your discovery of who you are for other people. Find out.