Two weeks ago, I got off a NYC express bus on my way to TEDxNYED. I walked into a Starbucks, reached into my purse, and realized I had left my wallet on the bus. I called my cousin, who immediately got on the phone with the MTA and started working to relocate the wallet. I then called Karen who was gracious enough to give me a ride to Collegiate. For most of the morning, I was physically present but mentally spinning out the likely consequences of my error. (I thought about students, some of whom have situations far worse than a missing wallet with which to deal. How much effort they have to exert on a daily basis to learn and be present!)
I tend to be a person who is always imagining the worse possible outcomes. Some of this I blame on law school. There students are taught to anticipate all outcomes but to focus on the worse possible scenario, so they can help their client balance the potential risks and rewards of the situation in the eyes of the law. It’s an important skill for lawyers to learn, but if you’re not careful, the lawyer brain starts to consume your life.
As I was sitting in one of the last TED talks of the morning, I got the following text from my sister (who was staying with my cousin): “THEY FOUND IT!!!!!!!!!!!!” An hour later, we met the bus at a 121st street, and my wallet (completely intact) and I were reunited.
In the days since my wallet was returned, fortuitous things keep happening. Nothing totally out of the ordinary, just everyday sorts of good things. Meals with friends. An unexpected gift card. Likely approval for a class I want to teach next year. A dentist visit with no cavities.
I’m starting to wonder- Am I seeing good things because they’re happening or are good things happening because I’m looking for them? Perhaps it’s the reason I liked today’s poem from the Writer’s Almanac so much.
by Thomas R. Smith
It’s like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.
The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.
The theft that could have happened doesn’t.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.
And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.
“Trust” by Thomas R. Smith, from Waking Before Dawn. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2007.