Many years ago, as a university student, I had just exited a train station on my way home, when a perfect stranger strode across my path. He paused to say, “How’s it kickin’ chicken? Don’t worry, you’ll make it,” and then kept on walking, disappearing into a crowd of people boarding a bus.

For all his long hair and ‘biker’ look, he could have been an angel in disguise. By my appearance, he couldn’t have possibly known that I was so unwell that even the thought of tackling the required hill to reach home overwhelmed me.

I think back on that day and marvel at the timing of it all.

Such a simple, seemingly random exchange gave me enough of a boost to get home, despite my fever and sheer exhaustion. Much to my surprise, I even managed to retain some of the information conveyed during the lectures I’d attended!

Have you ever experienced anything like that? Someone drops fleetingly into your world and changes it in an instant. Conversely, have you ever felt moved to say or do something for a friend, or even stranger, without any clue as to why?

I must confess that when such exchanges occur, there’s something exciting about the investment of energy, time, finances, encouragement – whatever it is – that can be deposited. It’s like a sense of knowing that someone’s journey has purposefully intersected yours.

For me, the connection I referred to earlier gave me enough resilience not only for that walk, but also to get up the next day and drag myself back to university again. Eventually a friend hauled me off to the doctor’s (only undergrad laboratory session I ever missed!) and I recovered, but who knows what I might have done if that man hadn’t taken the opportunity to encourage me? I might have stayed in bed for days and fallen further behind with my study. I might have even given up on my study for the semester. His words gave me the strength to tackle another day, which was another little step towards attaining my degree.

This brings to mind the image of a fish flipping up out of the water of a lake and plopping back under the surface. You see the split second of action, hear the splash, but long after the fish has disappeared, that motion will translate into a ripple that runs out towards the periphery of the body of water. Along the way the tiny wave might wash against a boat, some water reeds, waterbirds, or sometimes it can be seen reaching all the way to the water’s edge.

Every person we contact presents an opportunity to create a ripple – positively or negatively. The intersection of our lives might be simply a smile to a stranger and no more, or it could be like the man crossing that road and create a ripple that runs to the very end of our life. We may never know if our wave reaches the edge, but what a privilege to consider that it might.

Rug Pull

Has life taken you on all kinds of unexpected adventures? Sometimes you get time to plan ahead and do what you can to make the distance. Other times you can feel like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet!

Some years ago we had a ‘rug pull’ moment. It was actually a months-long struggle that finally ended with a wham! We were on our rears, reeling to work out a) what had happened, and b) how we could possibly get back up after such a fall.

Although there were definitely some ‘angels’ along the way, beyond a few close family members offers of help were rare. It wasn’t that we didn’t try to explain at times, and I don’t think that people didn’t care, but they didn’t get it and we ran out of energy to try communicating. Survival was the goal.

I’d like to say that the ‘rug pull’ was followed by a swift regather and then we were back on our feet, jogging down the path of life as we knew it. Falling on our ends put a lot of things out of reach. We were in a different position. We couldn’t go back to how things had been – and I believe that this was no accident.

We were forced onto new things; to take a different direction in life.

Now, that new road, it was great, right? Actually, it was really hard and nearly fractured us from the inside out. Some days we wondered why we were doing what we were. We felt so far beyond our coping ability that often it was like we were existing, not living. But at least we were going somewhere, albeit slowly.

Although we tumbled down some crater-like potholes along the way, gradually (and I do mean gradually!) a new purpose was revealed, and it was exciting. What had seemed to be an end, proved to be a new beginning and eventually we were able to reflect back on the journey and see the good in it; even feel grateful for our unexpected diversion. Our vision for the future also grew so much larger than we’d ever thought it could be.

The fact is we all face rug pull days or seasons. Perhaps our story strikes a chord for you. Perhaps your world has been turned on its head and you don’t know what to do. Rug pull moments aren’t pretty. They bruise and shake us to the core. BUT if we do what we still can, have faith and hold on, gradually our world will find a new equilibrium. In time, doors will open and behind them we’ll find new purpose. Those doors might look like tiny mouse holes at first – maybe nothing like we expected them to look – but at the end of the long, dim, obstacle infested road, there will be an end. Actually, a new beginning.

No matter where you are in life, whether you’ve landed tail down or are soaring with eagles, pray, never give up, and never stop reaching forward. Even if it feels like you’ve completely lost your way, put one foot after the other until you see some light ahead – for every tunnel has an end. And that’s where the scary unknown gets exciting.

Post-rug pull we’ll never be the same again, but we’ll be facing a new landscape with untold possibilities. The future. Embrace it.