Do you believe in coincidence? I think I did when I was much younger. Over time, I began to see an elegant pattern unfold, especially regarding intersections with other people whom I did not previously know. I am now 63 years young, and with each passing year, I marvel more and more about the blessings and enrichment I have received just by taking that one, simple step into the unknown and bringing yet another person into the sphere of my life and of those I love. There is a wonderful book called “The Medici Effect” written a few years ago by Frans Johannson. The book was all about innovation, and about how we increase the possibility of innovation by stepping into intersections we are presented with, whether coincidence or not. I believe each intersection is a unique and special invitation for personal growth, an opportunity to overcome personal barriers (really anything getting in the way of opening a dialogue with another person we do not know – he calls them associative barriers) and seeing what magic lies on the other side of the intersection. As I reflect on my life, I think about the richness of my networks – family, friends, colleagues, mentors, mentees, connections on social media – and the possibilities that they turned intorealities. Every day we are confronted with opportunities to change the world, not in necessarily big ways, but in small ways that matter none-the-less. One of life’s most intriguing mysteries to me is how each of us is making a difference in someone else’s life all the time, and most of the time we are unaware that we are doing it. Every now and then, something happens to remind us that we matter deeply to each other. This is grace in action. A call, a note, an email, a letter, really, any kind of communication that arrives unexpected, and in it, there is some deeply moving remark about how something you did or said touched another person’s life in a meaningful way. Each such reminder represents a “yes,” a time when you intentionally opened yourself to know another person and to share who you are with that person. To get to that point, you had to make a conscious decision to make an introduction and to commit to some level of intersection with that other person. You overcame your barriers – your fears, your lack of time, your lack of trust, your weariness, your need for personal space among a host of other excuses – to become available to another person and make their life matter to yours and yours to that person. There are times with these intersection opportunities are dramatic – when we are presented with life-changing connections and the choice is ours to enter into the connection or to walk away. How do you measure lost opportunities? I don’t know, but I do know that when I step into an intersection, I know inside my heart that it is going to be important and that I cannot step away. I am not always right about that 6th sense, but more often than not the intersection becomes a meaningful and valuable part of my life.
As a person ages and experiences life and death transitions, the question of richness becomes inevitable. What is it to be rich? Like most of my peers, I like nice things. I love our beautiful house and our comfortable life style. I am a sucker for vintage audio (vinyl records and the wonderful machines that play them!), my garage toys, good wine, good food and the ability to see our 4 kids, their spouses and our 10 grandbabies. Over the past three years, we lost my dad, my mom, and two brothers-in-law. We also saw the birth of 4 of those precious little ones and the safe return of our two sons from overseas deployments. I think a lot about the concept of legacy – simply put, what of importance will be left behind after I am gone – and I think it is bound to the intersections in my life that I chose to enter into. These are the riches of my life that cannot be measured, the people who care, not only about me but also about what I believe in and those that I love. Is there anything more important? I don’t think so.
So the message of this blog is one of hope and mercy and grace. Today, you touched someone else’s life. You were offered an opportunity to enter into an intersection whether it was a chance greeting, to engage in a simple conversation, to smile, to simply say thank you to a care or service provider, to talk to a person you just met at the store or at work, or to take a deeper step with a person you already know to get to know them better and to help them through a crisis or challenge. What matters is that you did it. You did not have to. There is no scorekeeper (at least not visible!), no real tangible reward for your time and energy, only your personal satisfaction. But at each intersection, we each have the chance of increasing our personal wealth in perhaps the most meaningful way of all – the wealth that comes from someone who honestly cares about you and your life. That is all the wealth I need at the end of my days. The rest is vapor. And to those like my friend Daniel Wilson who spends his days creating and sharing new intersections, I salute for the wealth you bring to this world.