This past weekend, I reconnected with a former student. Now in her thirties, my former Student Government officer is a successful athletic trainer for a professional sports team and travels with another of global fame. While she was in San Diego with the latter, we had a chance to catch up and take in a game. Two days after our 1-hour chat, I received a message that her flights were unable to take off (due to the ‘snowmaggeddon on the east coast’) and needed a place to stay for a few nights. Without hesitation, she was here. Is this a message from the universe or just a simple missed connection?
I’m not sure of what it all means, but it was nice to catch up.We’d met up once before (since she graduated) in Washington D.C.. As a traveler, I relish these coincidences. Right place, right time, right availability – these are one of the things travelers love. If per chance you catch that sale flight at the right time, if the Northern Lights are out in force when you can actually see them, if you manage to find that perfect beach with no one around, if you actually spot the leopard on your safari or, most significantly, if someone is around to offer you kindness – that’s what matters.
We’ve been beneficiaries of immense kindness while traveling; so any chance we get to pay it forward, we try to do so. Not only did I spend over a decade sharing this message with students, but also, kindness is ALWAYS the right thing to do in the world. We’ve had friends pick us up and drop us off during a 9 hour layover in London, we’ve had others let us crash for a week when we weren’t feeling well and still others who gave us a warm bed and hot shower during a blackout while never asking for anything in return. (Not to mention the experiences we had during Hurricane Sandy) Kindness matters. Sometimes I wonder, though, if the universe is trying to tell me something. I’m not even sure what that would actually be, but still, there might be some hidden message in there waiting for me to find.
Reconnecting is an interesting phenomenon, especially when it’s a former student or camper. In the world of high school, days and minutes seem like years and years seem like eons. A decade age difference between a student and teacher feels like a lifetime in your teens and twenties, but when you encounter the same in thirties and forties you’re now considered peers. Here, in a west coast city that neither of us grew up in, a new connection formed. Travel forms bonds that are different than the ones at home. The student became the peer and the teacher, the friend. The story changed to be two people, in the same city, sharing a bit of kindness and fun, creating memories to be retold in the city of Washington D.C. and in Long Island, New York.
Have you ever had an experience like this? Have you been able to help out a friend in need or been the one to receive that assistance? Have you felt the kindness of strangers at home or abroad? Have you ever felt the universe dropped you smack in the middle of a situation to teach you something? What have you learned?