Crossings: Life Changing Encounters

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“They totally changed my life!” It may be a spouse a close friend or a public figure, or it could be a single act or fleeting glance. Regardless of the complexity of the encounter these crossings occur every day and inevitably influence each of our lives. Crossings can lead us to unlimited joy, lift our spirits, give us hope, re-assure us, teach us and send warm waves of connectedness through our bodies. Crossings can be subtle and barely perceptible or so powerful that they can rescue us from certain physical or mental tragedy.

Few would argue that we find ourselves in challenging times, whether a result of the economy, strained relationships, or lack thereof. Regardless of how dismal our current moment appears to us, that moment will be replaced by a completely new moment,….in just a moment. That next moment is influenced largely by you, but perhaps even more so by the opportunity for new experience, new connections, and new crossings.

Before I get too much farther I should clarify that crossings for our purposes are seemingly random events as opposed to planned strategic or manipulated events. I acknowledge that these too are crossings, and will most likely be covered in the next piece, but for today I am simply examining that random, odd, unexplained karma like events that occur in all our lives. It could be a simple observation, a random act of kindness, a past acquaintance, or a random introduction to the friend of a friend. These random events occur continually and unavoidably in our waking hours, unless of course you spend your days locked in your room or other metaphoric dark place. If that is the case, you need to take this with you to the book store, find a place to sit comfortably, and read it again.

To better illustrate, let’s take a peek at the crossings that may occur during this trip to the book store. To get there you will walk, drive, take a cab, ride the bus or your bike. On your route you may first see your neighbor, do you like them? Why or why not?p>

Next in your path is a glimpse of someone you have never seen. Who are they, where did they come from, what are they like? Your assumptions will most likely be formed in a split second at the subconscious level based on any number of attributes. Clothes, hair style, body type, and the way they walk, the way they stand, the car they are driving, and whether they acknowledged you.

The crossing could be as simple as that, or perhaps you give them a nod to acknowledge their presence, or stop to help them with an apparently difficult task, or comment on the weather or the book they are reading, (without being a creeper).

I could continue through your journey but that would take away your fun. The point is that often we are oblivious to those around us, perhaps a societal influence but a choice we make none the less. Crossings are often subtle and you need to be open and aware of others in your world for there to be any effect.

As you think about the crossings that have or may occur in your life, realize that you are actually comparing them to yourself; your views, your self-image and your numerous social stigmas. Note that you may not even know the person, and probably never will, but in that moment, you have, consciously or subconsciously, made a judgment. A judgment about them, and yourself, it is unavoidable. With this knowledge we can open up new opportunities, new directions or simply confirm our affirmations.

The crossing may occur in a store, when you acknowledge a common, reaffirming, viewpoint on pricing, quality or availability. It may be a simple comment you make to someone who appears to be having a bad day, a simple “let me help with that”, no major commitment and no expectation. Yet the simple crossing may have restored a person’s faith, may have affirmed that there is still a good side to people, you have taken a little coldness out of the world and deep down have a good feeling about the act. I will admit this type of crossing is often imperceptible and you most likely will not bring it up at the dinner table, but there is no denying that the crossing had an effect and left an impression at some level.

We witness a kind act, the simple holding of a door, or a nod that acknowledges a presence in this world. These simple crossings may be merely a fleeting moment of cognitive affirmation or they may lead to new lifelong pursuits or friendships. Someone who has absolutely no understanding of our current situation or our “Issues” ultimately may provide an opportunity to start anew, to reframe our current experience, to give us a fresh new perspective based in a view of another’s reality, or simply make us smile. Despair can be replaced by hope in a fleeting unplanned second. A crossing may be a new face in the crowd, a never approached neighbor, a stranger on the street, a reconnection from the past, someone that has been in our life all along that we simply choose to ignore, or the friend of a friend that totally changes our life for the better.

“A stranger is a friend we have not met yet” – William Butler Yeats
(“But the same applies to enemies, so beware” – Jim Tippett)

How many times have you randomly bumped into an acquaintance from the past? It is common to explore each other’s journey through the years. Where have your mutual friends ended up, what’s their latest take on life, why did we fall out of touch? In these scenarios we automatically rewind our life to the period of time that we were acquainted. We then push play and relive the times between the then and the now, we take a journey reliving the period and then see how we have grown, how we have fared and how we are positioned for the future. In this wonderful social networking age, bumping into those from the past is much easier. It may be less authentic and open to manipulation than looking into someone’s eyes, but it works. You may find how they vaulted hurtles in their life, how they achieved, or how they failed. We may think we have it bad, but soon find that our crossing has similar problems or worse, perhaps providing an opportunity to reach out, to grow, to find comfort and support or simply commiserate. This crossing may even present an opportunity to build a new, rekindle missed opportunities, or launch a future life altering journey.

We may even simply just reflect on crossings that have led us to where we are now, a good friend, a casual acquaintance that became our spouse, the supportive boss, or perhaps we crossed with manipulators, liars and cheats. To be true to ourselves, we do need to look at the bad crossings with the same reflective thoughts as the good. Many may find their lives shattered, along with their self esteem, as the result of a negative crossing. The sooner the individual can grip the reality of a negative crossing, the sooner they can enjoy the positive crossings.

Some of the most influential crossings occur when we just happen to be in the right place at the right time. These may include introductions between friends or acquaintances, a new job or the view of a new career, a delay that keeps us from harm, or places us next to a life changing crossing. Our perspectives on the world can be changed and enlightened in a simple moment, a single look, a single hand shake, or blown by the wind off a butterfly’s wing.

I now challenge you to go out into your world and for at least one day, be aware of the crossings in your life. Chances are you will not be able to capture or count them all, but allow for some quick reflection on the ones you do. Remember this requires no planning or manipulation on your part, just let it roll. The crossing itself is random, what happens from there is up to you.

Classic Crossings

You really did not want to be there, (the wedding, the meeting, the event) but during the event you became a part of an interaction that had a positive impact, or you influenced some element of the event that would not have been the same had you not been there.

Where did you meet your spouse? It was a crossing. Where did you get your current job? It was a crossing.

A driver’s frustration as viewed in the rear view mirror makes me laugh, especially when there is absolutely nothing they can do about the jamb.

We have all meet someone who some may say “have it all together”. But when examined deeper they have the issues as every one of us. They have either masked the other element s or are narrowly focused on a simple life task.

We see a visually pleasing scene or a visually disturbing scene, the model or the bag lady. It could be the blonde or the brunette, the fat guy, the kid, the trouble maker, the house wife, the business man, the crook. All leave us with an impact or an affirmation. In observing another person we may find that we tend to “classify” them under one of our preconceived notions. But in actuality we are classifying ourselves.

Sporting events are full of crossings, positive crossings if you are sitting on the home side, potentially negative if you selected the visitor’s side.

We meet in kindergarten and our life paths are intertwined forever.

We meet at work, on a project team, after a week or so we either like each other or start to scheme on the others demise. Lifelong friendships can emerge from a single assignment.

We hear a new song, a new voice, a tone, or we key in on something no one else hears. Concentrate on the sounds around you. A fire truck siren leads to someone who is having a worse day than you.

Read an article or visit a website that interests you? Send an e-mail to the person or contact asking for more info or give your feedback on their work. Or simply forward it to an acquaintance who you feel may gain benefit. The newer the relationship or the quicker the crossing, the less judgmental it is, and the less the baggage deposit. Realize however that in a good relationships there is no baggage, or at least the persons “issues”, or past are not viewed as baggage. They are viewed as a positive element in the molding of who they are.

You may meet someone with a totally different perspective on an issue, or life for that matter. At first you may mutter “What in the heck are they all about?” Later, if you happen to reflect on the crossing, you will most likely find an element of wisdom or usefulness, a tool to help you in your own journey of understanding.

By James D. Tippett

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