The Encounters Along The Way
The gift of any journey, it seems to me, is the encounter. By encounter, I am thinking specifically of the event that happens when your path intersects with another person, often unexpectedly, at a time and place that proves to be significant in some way.
These encounters are fundamental to every person's journey. Indeed, they often shape the journey itself. The wise old man. The wayward son. The fool. The seductress. The nurturer. The villain. The saviour. The faithful friend. The teacher. These iconic figures are very familiar in literature and film. Their impact is usually vitally important to the hero. Have you considered that your life, too, is filled with such figures?
As you go through life, you will cross paths with all sorts
of people. Who will guide you? Who will seek to impede
your way? Who will you trust? Who will be your companion?
There is no getting around the fact that the arc of your story will be profoundly influenced by the encounters you have along the way. Those whom you meet cannot help but inform your quest, though not always in ways that are easy to grasp. They may have information for you. They may teach you something. They may make you laugh and put you at ease. They may show you a new way of looking at a thing. They may bring you comfort. They may bring you heartache. They may motivate you. They may try to quash you and take what is yours. This is all part of
the adventure that is the journey.
Pay attention to the timing of your encounters. Life has a way of offering you what you need before you know you need it. There is an old proverb that says, "when the pupil is ready, the teacher appears."
Every person has a treasure inside them, even if they do not realize it. Very often, the treasure is the story. In your life, you will undoubtedly discover tales of struggle and of triumph. You will find stories that will lift you up and inspire you, and stories that will bring tears to your eyes and break your heart. No two will be exactly the same, though the themes will repeat again and again. Let these stories enliven your own.
When fellow travellers take the opportunity to open up and share of themselves, all are the better for it. This new year, I urge you to try and get past the small talk. So many of us get caught up in the posturing and the posing. When this happens, the opportunity for a powerful exchange is lost; what could have been something meaningful is reduced to a kind of charade. Remember, a single encounter with a fellow human being can alter the entire trajectory of a life. Think about the time you met your best friend or spouse or partner. Your whole life would be different if you didn't get up the courage to say hello, or to go the event, or be at that place at that time. And you cannot predict when it will happen. And that's the magic. Every moment has this possibility hidden within it.
Let's not waste these moments by being shy, or afraid, or by acting cool or aloof. Life is too short to pretend we do not care, or to let feelings of inadequacy and insecurity win the day.
The best gifts are always ones where we give part of ourselves. Some people are naturally open and comfortable and willing to share of themselves. Some prefer to keep to themselves and are harder to penetrate. Wherever you are on the spectrum, be patient with yourself and with others.
Sometimes you can help others discover their own magic. A smile, a nod, a friendly hello – these are not small things. They serve as a sort of invitation. They are part of the ceremony we must go through before we are willing to open ourselves up. Once a genuine encounter is underway, look out. A powerful force is now at work, and lives may never be same again. Live the coming year fully and without regret. May you encounter wonderful people along the way.