I am pleased to join once again in the March Slice of Life Challenge, and my mind turns back on this first day to the old question of what leads us to what and how we find ourselves in particular circumstances. Personally, I do not feel the need to find answers or discern a guiding plan in all of the currents that I see coming together in life. I do, however, enjoy marvelling at the joys that arise from life simply turning out as it does–particularly when I know how few things we consciously control.
This month, I participate again because I fell in with two fine teachers with whom I work–Suzanne Scannell and Deb Rizzoli–who encouraged me last year. I work with them because nearly two years ago, I received the opportunity to transfer to the same school where they had both taught for many years. I had worked in their school district for nearly 15 years prior to that, and I happened onto that job when it became available at a specific time when I chanced to see an ad in the newspaper–the same manner in which I had found my previous job. When I consider the role of chance in all of these things–as well as how I have met many friends in my life, how I came to live in certain places, and I how I even came to be, I run the risk of repeating a post from last year.
Truly, I have come to view my own conscious plans merely as curious little exercises to keep my feet moving forward a few paces at a time, and I am grateful that other forces carry me in directions I could not possibly anticipate or contrive.
Two evenings ago, for example, I treated myself to a dinner out, sitting at the only seat that happened to be available at the bar of the restaurant I chose. Before the night was out, I had made two new friends who were sitting nearby. By the next afternoon, I was talking with them and their cousin at a cafe I had wanted to visit but never had the chance. By evening, I was eating sushi for only the second time in my life and sharing conversation about each other’s families, beliefs in the essential goodness or evil of human beings, personal missions we all bring to our professional work, our attachment to our communities, and our wonder that we all seemed to be longing for some time to have just this kind of discussion and were now having it–and that I was now participating in it with people I did not even know existed just the morning before.
Then came the coincidences. My three new friends had two little cousins who attend my school, and I know the children well. And during a break in our meal’s conversation, a gentleman from the next table leaned over to ask whether my last name is Fornale. I responded by asking whether his was Lamego. Thence commenced a reunion with a former student, whom I had taught 18 years ago. He recalled specific elements of our experiences together that merely chanced to coincide with an earlier beat in the discussion at my table. We had driven nearly an hour to get to this restaurant; the place itself was at least a half an hour away from where I had taught my former student. So much of the evening was astronomically unlikely on multiple levels, yet some transcendent, almost self-conscious blessing seemed to arise out of it all.
Being a human being can be hard, no matter what our station in life. But the greatest meaning in being human comes from the connections we make with each other. I pray always to be receptive to opportunities such as the ones that came my way this weekend.