Friday, September 05, 2008

There Are No Accidents

The last couple of evenings I have taken some serious naps. These naps transcended time and when I woke up I didn't know what year it was and my beard had grown four feet long. I thought I was just tired. Yesterday afternoon I started sneezing and now I am in the midst of a head cold or sinus attack. I can never tell the difference. I realize now the deep naps were a warning that something was coming.

Way back in February someone ran into my car and did $5000 damage. It was my fault and I almost deserved it for being so stupid. Thank God no one was hurt. In the world of car insurance such an event is called an "accident". That's a fairly descriptive term since I didn't do it on purpose. It would be a very scary way to get a new door and bumper. In much of life, however, I do not think there are such things as accidents. There is serendipity and happenstance. Some people think that coincidence is God 's way of acting in our lives. I feel certain that most things happen for a reason. A month or so ago I was asked to be part of a focus group here at work. I'm not sure why I was even asked. While attending the meeting I spoke whenever I thought it was appropriate. I think there were a few moments when I was a little passionate about what I was saying. I noticed from the corner of my eye that a person I did not know was occasionally smiling and nodding his head whenever I spoke. Later, after the meeting, he introduced himself and complimented me on what I said and how well I said it. We hit it off immediately and have stayed in contact. Yesterday we had a very enjoyable lunch together and I believe we are kindred spirits. The point of this story is that I believe the right people come into our lives at the right time and in the right place. I am not sure yet what purpose this new friend has for me or me for him. I do know, however, that my life has been filled with the right people at the right time in the right places. None of these encounters was an accident and most have had a purpose that I eventually realized. Hopefully, I have been the right person at the right time in the right place for others. All of us are like stones thrown into a placid lake or pond. Some of us make a big splash in others lives and then we are gone. Others create a ripple effect that will continue beyond our vision. The things we say and do can also be like seeds that are scattered to the wind. Many of them will take root even if we never see the growth. Most of us will never sit in the shade of trees we have planted. Regardless, we should not underestimate the effect that life's "accidents" have on us. For everything there is a reason and a purpose. My daily thoughts began as an accident and now they sometimes feel like the most important thing I do everyday.

Once I attended a Zen mindfulness day with some friends. It was an early spring day and we were on a farm. The day consisted of meditation, writing, and Zen walks. When it was time to walk, the Zen Master would ring a bell and we would follow him in single file through the fields. From time to time, he would ring the bell and we would stop walking. During one of these pauses, I became aware of what a beautiful day it was. The sky was deep blue, the sun was shining bright, and there was a chill in the air. I was totally in the moment. In the midst of this moment, I looked down and realized I was standing in a pile of cow dung. The bell rang again and we starting walking back to the farm house where we meditated and wrote in our journals. The Zen Master asked if we had any thoughts about our walk. I described my experience of being in the moment and then realizing I was standing in cow dung. He has me what realization I had in that moment. My response was "Life can be wonderful and beautiful even when you are standing in a pile of cow dung"!

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