For those of you that know me, I’ve never been one very fond of tattoos. It’s not that I was against them, I just never thought there was anything I believed in firmly enough to get it permanently written on my body. Recently however, a curious chain of events led me to make the decision, and rather impulsively at that. Those events, their relevance, and the lessons I’ve learned since are what I’d like to share with you today.
One day I was sitting in the car with my girlfriend and I said, “I think I know what I want to get for a tattoo.” To which she responded, “Really? What?” I then told her that it came to me earlier that day, and that I wanted to get the Universe conspires written on my foot, so that each step I took in life would be a reminder of that paradigm. She burst out, “NO WAY!!! You’ve got to be kidding me… Did I already tell you this?” She had not. “I was just thinking about getting that exact same tattoo but on my wrist yesterday.”
This was about a week before I was leaving to come here, to Korea, and she and I were both in a very reflective state of mind. But the events that had led us to that state never ceased to amaze us. So many small coincidences and compelling events had caused us to decide to fight the odds, stay together, and nurture what we had found, true love. Looking back, and connecting the dots, everything seemed to make sense. We had met at the right time, said the right things, and made the right decisions to allow something like that to grow. And it grew strong enough for us to decide to make things work during my trip to this country. Furthermore, I have also been learning the language here. I will be taking a class next month, in fact. Having made the decision to come here before even meeting my girlfriend, I am now here learning the language she was born speaking. And now, a week before I was leaving, we had both thought about getting a tattoo of a line from our favorite book, The Alchemist, by “accident.”
Now that I’m here, I have gone through a bit of an emotional roller coaster. It was exciting, then lonely, then frustrating, then lonely, then exciting, and now… it feels like home. And yet throughout that short journey, I have seemed to make just the right kinds of friends; whenever I need something, they are there to help. My school is difficult, but it seems like I was made for it. I now realize that I was meant to be at this school. My sports background has given me a chance to get through to some of these boys who have no interest in English. In fact, I showed a dunk video in class of Derek Rose (a favorite player of mine) and now one of my students wants his English name to be Derek.
In addition, my Co-Teacher Nora has just “happened” to be one of the best people I could work with. She chose teaching as a profession because she was following her heart. In college, she actually read The Alchemist and found it guiding her. However, before I arrived, she had lost motivation for the job, and longed to travel and learn more about the world. And now I, someone who has traveled to where she wants to go and has had experience in motivating people, happened to be placed at her school with her. The teacher that was here before me left a note on the floor of this apartment I sit in right now and left without telling her. She indirectly knocked Nora’s spirits down to an all time low. I now realize I was meant to work with her.
The coincidences could go on for days, but I would like to make a point here, instead. It is not that my life is, by any means, more special than the next. Rather, it is the very mindset I have tattooed onto my foot that helps me to see my life this way. It’s far easier to view ones life as a series of random, unrelated events, not contributing to anything greater. It is a bit more difficult, however, to view that very same life as a string of related events that build upon one another to form something greater.
THE TAKEAWAY: Life is a coin. There are two ways to look at it. On one side, it has little to no meaning, and “shit happens” as they say. On the other side, you can see those things that happen as being interrelated. You can choose to view them as contributing to something greater. Regardless of which side you choose to look at, it is still the same coin. So, which will you choose? Those before us that have made great change in the world, or lived a truly fulfilling life, certainly made up their minds. So I hope today, you decide not to leave yours to chance.
In honor of the now late, Steve Jobs, and to further reiterate, please watch this when you have the time:
Listen to your heart. Trust the Universe.