I just realised I've only posted a paltry four posts here this month, mainly because I've been busy elsewhere: writing for print magazines, a bit for the NONA blog and with real life meetings.
I'll blog a bit more about those meetings eventually, but in the meantime I thought I'd share a story that's been sitting on my desktop for, oh, more than a year now (I have plenty of these more or less finished blog posts I keep meaning to finish but somehow never get around to):
Just the other week (well, February 2008 actually) I was sitting on a God-forsakenly early flight to London, thinking hard about work, as I often do, and the passenger sitting next to me kept trying to get a conversation going.
In certain moods, had I been too stressed, I might have felt he was interfering with my train of thought, but for some reason, I think it was him mentioning that he was going to Northampton where my ex-partner worked for a long while, I started listening and talking back. He was soon telling me that he'd given up on stress after a heart-attack when he was 29 (at which point he decided it was simply not worth the price:-) ), and that one of his sons has died of hospital maltreatment (I know too much about how arbitrary public health care can be) - but also that in the end he'd forced the mayor of the town where it all happened to at least hoist the flags all over town on the day of his son's funeral (good one: made me feel happy for him and grateful for how there are people who stand up and fight, even win small victories, in the face of such devastating tragedies).
Now this might have been a typical Scandinavian conversation, not all national cultures have it in them to bond over such depressing issues, but there you are. And no, this was not a nutter in any way as a Brit might think, quite the contrary, it was simply a brilliant conversation bestowed on me for God knows which reason.
But I felt grateful for the trust, it reminded me of a few things I needed to be reminded of: I took a deep breath when I got off that plane; made sure to afford myself the luxury of sitting down for that pint of coffee and breakfast; savour the moment rather than having it on the go - and pick up the newspapers before I got on the train into town. It also remind myself to get in back in touch with a woman it turned out we both knew (yeah, Norway IS a small country).
My point? Sometimes you miss out on vital things and opportunities by being too obsessed about where you're going.
It might even be that our detours become more valuable than our planned visits or career moves. I met one of my greatest mentors while working in a pub, and one of my most precious memories is sitting with another mentor I'd met by chance in Athens the year before on the top of a hillside at midnight in the Santa Cruz mountains (and yes, there were mountain lions and snakes around, crazy, she thought us protected by a goddess)....This, incidentally, is why blogging this story got held up for so long, I kept thinking of all the wonderful examples and how to fit them all in, but they're hardly why I started writing this in the first place - so let's just get on with it...
Now, I'm not driving at divine providence or something like that, just that it pays to be open for the opportunity that good things are where you least expected to find them ... and certainly blogging has been one grand serendipitous venture from the very beginning... Which reminds me of this blogging story by Zena el-Kahlilh, pictured below (by me):