© Colleen Coombe | Dreamstime.com
A few days ago I was at a New Year’s party in Teaneck, NJ, chatting with a couple I see once or twice a year—friends of friends who always show up at this same annual event. We’d already discussed our kids, our new color Nooks, health, and various and sundry other subjects when for some reason or another the topic of a particular year in the seventies came up. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we realized that in 1976 we must have been drinking Rolling Rock beer and listening to the exact same Blue Grass band in a funky bar that was situated at the end of a long, winding dirt road on a mountain just outside of New Paltz, NY. How could this be? And how was it that we’d never stumbled upon this little-known shared experience before?
The conversation made me think of another friend and another day at the town pool, when I causally mentioned that my family had always vacationed at Lake Pleasant in the Adirondacks when I was a kid. The guy’s eyes lit up, and soon we were both reminiscing about all the same stores, fishing holes and beaches, because apparently this fellow had also vacationed at this same place when he was young. It was just a “fluke” that while floating in a New Jersey town pool we happened upon the realization that we’d also been swimming in the same place at the same time forty-some years ago. Who knows—maybe I’d even built a few sandcastles with this guy (or knocked his over!)
So why am I bringing this up now, instead of writing about New Year’s resolutions (which I will probably make but never keep)? The reason is because it seems to me that these little conversations are simply clues to the common thread that runs through all our lives. You may look at someone else and think you have very little in common (after all, the first guy is a jet engine mechanic and the second a furniture merchant), but the truth is, “ya just never know” when you’re going to run into someone who has been through what you’ve been through—whether that experience is slugging down a Rolling Rock in the Shawangunk Mountains or facing down cancer. Those little “Ahah!” moments of a surprise connection are reminders that we all have a lot more in common than we may think.
And, in my opinion, remembering that our lives are interwoven in beautiful and mysterious ways is an excellent way to start the New Year. Happy, healthy, prosperous 2011 to all!