(written May 2009)
“Sometimes you just need a person in your life and they do that bit and you move on, but for that time its the most important person and its great to have the feeling as it energizes you and makes you feel good”
-Rachna Dushyant Singh
Chance encounters. Memorable words. Poignant moments. The world turns. Fading. Forgetting. Leaving.
So many faces met over the course of last year. Lasting impressions. Tons of personalities clashed and bonded with over few cups of tea or beer or dessert. And the clock hands move, dirty dishes taken away, bill paid, and you move on.
One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in this new environment, where each fends for himself with no parental figure constantly protecting you from The World, is that sometimes you meet, make merry, and then part ways. All over the course of a mere meal even. The essence of the experience is in getting to know people just for a particular moment. Be this moment 5 minutes or 5 weeks long. And then you move on to the next set of chance encounters and memorable words.
I am still trying to figure out this odd way of bonding. I cannot fathom why people would go to the effort of meeting and sharing lives with others who they might see only that night. It is hard for me to not feel a pang of regret as goodbyes are said, while at the same time, making a mental promise of keeping touch. I cannot see why one would just let the flow take them farther downstream from the person they’ve just left behind, and not make the effort to swim countercurrent so that they can relive again the sheer enjoyment that the meeting brought them with the possibility of the one moment turning into long days of lazy happiness.
However, I am warming up to this notion, increasingly, as life puts me at the epicenter of such meetings. I’d initially failed to see that not only are such meetings enjoyable due to the nature of their uniqueness, they are crucial in the life lessons they teach. It’s an idea that took a while for me to arrive at. It took me a while to see such unnatural encounters in a positive light. I used to turn my mind over and over again, trying to get to the crux of the issue and not really seeing that the relationships were to be savored in just those choice moments. That those moments, despite their short lengths, were capable to teach a soul lessons that a 10-year friendship might fail to. Beyond these valuable messages, they introduce a person to new ideas, feelings, experiences, thus broadening one’s knowledge of what life has to offer.
Looking back to my last year, so many standout moments were those spent with what I am terming “5-minute friends.” Conversing with someone about his life spent on a traveling circus, meeting a photographer who’d spent a year in Iraq as part of the U.S. Army, connecting with another kindred soul over a shared take on life. All of these single moments, with “5-minute friends” left deep footprints in my mind and in my path of life.
Each person, a planet in his or her own orbit, crosses path sometimes with another’s orbit.
But ultimately, the set path of the orbit beckons and each has to go his or her merry which way. Departing with sweetness (or sadness), but nonetheless leaving a small dent in the other they bumped into. And thus life continues and chance encounters keep happening and we should learn how to embrace them and not hold the planet from continuing its course. Live, learn, move on.