In August, I had the awesome opportunity to speak to middle school students and leaders about the concept of being “Fearless”. Coincidentally, “Fearless” is my personal focus for 2016 and I even wear a Giving Key around my neck with the word inscribed. While speaking to students about being fearless for their upcoming school year, I encouraged them with these words:
“We have no idea what hangs in the balance of acting courageously so never underestimate how far your courage will stretch. Being fearless has the ability to echo through time.”
I never realized these words would reach full circle for me two weeks later.
Last summer, as a result of a leap of faith, I went home to Hawaii. Despite the consistent 75 degree trade winds and the 24/7/365 access to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and mountain ranges, I grew to greatly dislike my hometown. Coming home was a big deal because I had no desire to ever do so. I left in 2008 and never planned on returning. Yet, there was a specific, vulnerable and frightening mission I returned to Hawaii for (which you can read all about here) so I took a deep breath, was scared out of my wits and hopped onto a plane that flew nearly 4700 miles across the world.
I welcome a lifestyle of life-long learning and I love trying to comprehend the rationale behind why things occur. I’ve even coined the phrase “Divine Conspiracy”, defining it to be when two (or more) of life’s puzzle pieces that are, at the time, seeming unrelated finally fit together to reveal a perfect design. Some people refer to this as “chance”, “luck” or “coincidence”. In economics we refer to this as the “Butterfly Effect” but I personally like the ring of “Divine Conspiracy”.
“Divine Conspiracy” was the name of the game while I was in Toronto, ON last week. Celebrating the completion of a year-long study regiment for the MCAT, as well as my college best friend’s acceptance into her Graduate Program, Labor Day Weekend 2016 held the opportunity for making marks on our Bucket Lists. My best friend from high school even flew in from Hawaii to embark on this wondrous adventure.
Those of you who really know me or have worked alongside me understand this fact: I am a planner. A freak of a planner actually. I am incredibly flexible but I have Plans A-Ziiiiiii (those are subscripts by the way) always conjuring inside my head. In addition, I greatly dislike procrastination and I am a huge advocate for appropriate communication. You know those crazy people who research the junk out of things and then make assorted detailed itineraries, spreadsheets, documents, and lists then share them on Google Drive with multiple people? No? Well, that’s me. I probably say “it’s on Google Drive” at least 5 times a day. If there’s anything I’m really really, really good at, (and am willing to publicly admit on the internet) it is making spreadsheets and communicating when, where, who, what and how.
So you can imagine my look of absolute horror as we approached our airbnb after a full 15+ hour day exploring the 4th biggest city in North America with no sign of my keys. My keys, which are typically clipped onto my belt loop, included not only our principal method of getting into our apartment in a foreign country, but also included my church keys, my beloved Vic Card for Harris Teeter discounts, my house keys, and most importantly, my car keys. Did I mention we drove up to Toronto? How about the fact that my college best friend could not miss her class Tuesday afternoon without getting kicked out of the Graduate Program she worked so hard to get into? How about the fact that my high school best friend had a flight out of Charlotte Tuesday evening? Oyve.
No car keys = BIG problem
For a brief moment, I panicked. I seldom panic and if I do, you wouldn’t be able to tell because I am quite skilled at the art of internalizing. Oh! But during this particular circumstance, my best friends’ faces revealed that even they could tell. In fact, the dude across the street could tell. I’m pretty positive the voyagers on the transit two blocks away knew I was having an ulcer the size of the Soviet Union. I mean, prior to leaving North Carolina I joked about moving to Toronto but I wasn’t exactly referring to committing on Labour Day Weekend or under these conditions.
The good news was it was only Saturday. Our 13+ hour road trip meant that we had all of Sunday and Monday morning to find my silly missing set of keys. The only issue was that Labour Day is celebrated in Canada and useful businesses and offices that could help us were closed. Plan A quickly became #OperationFindMissingKeys. We retraced our many steps from the previous day and even befriended strangers whom quickly wanted to help us. Alas, no luck. After spending the bulk of the day playing Lost and Found without any progress, we finally decided to enjoy ourselves at the CNE where one of our favorite bands, Walk Off The Earth was closing out the summer season. I mean, we can’t wallow the entire time – we can only control the controllable, right?
Ever heard of our creative friends, Walk Off The Earth? They’re pretty amazing and quite the musical geniuses! Make sure to check them out here
After praying for literally a straight 1.5 hours while scanning the ground around our apartment and the nearby streets one final time, we carefully “broke into” our airbnb and began plotting various versions of Plan B – all of which involved my friends flying out to their respective destinations from Toronto with me staying behind.
Friends, this is when my being fearless over a year prior came into full circle.
Long story short(ish): I went to Hawaii last summer and had to build up a TON of courage to board the plane. Twice I nearly hopped on a plane back home but found reason to stay. While there, I went to a picnic that I did not plan on attending and spent the afternoon with an awesome family originally from, well, Canada. Flash forward to Labour Day 2016: My two best friends and I had all of our stuff, no car keys, a car parked in a school zone, and an airbnb reservation ending at noon (essentially, we were homeless and stranded). We had too much to lug around and no where to go. We would have stuck everything into the car, but well, that required keys. Lo and behold, guess who happened to be in the very same city visiting on the very same weekend? Yes. My Canadian friends. And guess who I ended up staying with for an additional two days while my missing key ordeal was being resolved? Yup, you guessed it!
The ordeal was very much unplanned and once my best friends were where they needed to be, I could more effectively focus on the necessary steps to get myself home. With the help of my favorite Canadian family, I was not only able to have a comfortable bedroom and bathroom for two extra days, but I also had transportation, food and friendship. Though ordering/making a key in Canada for a U.S. car was a bit more complicated than one would imagine, with the additional help of friends on both sides of the border, I was able to not only have multiple keys made but not be forced to pay an arm and leg.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a firm believer in things happening for special and specific reasons. Personally, I don’t believe in “chance” – it’s not a good enough explanation for me. Rather, I believe in purposeful occurrences. I believe that we meet people for a reason and that moments in our lives happen for a purpose. I’m not entirely sure what the rationale/effect behind my keys being lost is – other than to obviously have spares hidden throughout the world. Who knows, perhaps I’ll end up attending medical school at one of the schools I was able to check out during my extended stay. Maybe I’m just over-thinking it but I like the idea of a “Divine Conspiracy”. Regardless, it is pretty cool to view my experience in this fashion:
- The awesome family that quickly came to my aid was one I would never have met had I not attended a particular picnic
- This particular picnic was something that I would never have attended had I decided to go home earlier than scheduled
- I would not be in Hawaii in the first place had I not courageously boarded a plane for an unplanned adventure last summer.
A year ago, when I boarded the plane to return to North Carolina, I felt very defeated in my original mission of visiting. In many ways, I saw a fruitless summer. Evidently, I was wrong; there was just a gestational period to a blessing. I think that the reality is: though in the moment we may not understand why things may (or may not) happen, there are pieces of our lives surely assembling themselves to create a beautiful mosaic. Sometimes, we’re even fortunate enough to see the pieces fit together and understand the necessity of our experiences and struggles. Overtime, things in our lives that may appear fruitless and devoid of meaning will all make sense in our individual stories.