It seems, as I’ve gotten older, that the world becomes much smaller. As I begin to meet more and more people throughout my lifetime, I’ve realized that the six degrees of separation is really more like two degrees of separation.
The last place I thought I’d be saying this about is New York City. I thought that coming to a large city with millions of people would minimize the chances of me ever running into anyone I know. On the contrary, it’s enhanced the chances.
Back in my hometown, the likelihood of running into someone I went to high school with was about 80-90% depending on the day. Of course, in any town, everyone shops at same grocery stores, goes to the same movie theaters, and eats at the same restaurants. What I’ve learned is that the same can be said for a large city.
This past weekend, I traveled to Chicago for the 2013 Chicago Marathon. I went for work to help out at the Runner’s World booth at the Marathon Expo. I was so excited to travel to a new city. It’s always nice to get away from New York for a little while.
I boarded my flight on Thursday morning at Laguardia Airport. I was scheduled to leave at 9:40AM, but of course, my flight didn’t depart until around 10:30AM. While I was on my flight, I sat next to a man who was originally sitting in the seat that I was ticketed for. I kindly asked him to move, and so he did. After that, we began conversing as we waited for our plane to take-off.
I told him that it was my first time traveling to Chicago and how excited I was about going. I told him that I was traveling to work at the Chicago Marathon Expo and that I worked at Runner’s World Magazine. “Runner’s World?” he asked. “What’s the company that publishes that?” he added.
“Rodale” I replied.
“That’s funny…my daughter is interning at Organic Gardening,” he told me.
I was in absolute shock when I heard this. He continued to tell me how she also used to intern for Men’s Health Magazine in the New York office, where I am currently working. Furthermore, she happened to intern on the same floor as me while she was in New York. My level of amazement rose as he texted her and she listed names of people that she worked with, whom I know very well. I couldn’t believe it. “I somehow happened to sit next to someone whose daughter is interning at the same exact company that I work for, and used to sit on the same floor that I sit” I thought to myself.
“What a small world” he said.
I smiled and nodded in agreement.
He was holding the New York Times newspaper in his hands and flipping through the pages as he browsed the articles. He pointed to an article with a large photo of several people sitting at a dinner table and smiling.
“Hey, this guy works at Rodale,” he commented and pointed at the photo.
I looked over at the picture and was in even bigger shock to find out that it was an article written about another person who happens to work for my company and also sits on the same floor that I sit.
My mind was officially blown. I couldn’t tell if this was pure coincidence or if somehow, the universe meant for this happen. I like to believe that everything happens for a reason. We meet people in our lives for a purpose. I like to think that there is some lesson or meaning behind it. Maybe it’s because I feel that things happened to me that way. Every person we meet, we can take something from, whether it be good or bad.
When we finally arrived in Chicago, I thanked the man for the great conversation and let him know that I hope to meet his daughter in the near future. He went on to explain how much she would love to work at Rodale after she graduated college. We said our goodbyes and I went my own way.
As I look back on it and think about this encounter, I realize that one small connection could make a world’s difference. It gives me inspiration and hope that one person really can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s these small day-to-day connections that create portals, doorways, and opportunities to great things in our future.
As they say, it’s a small world after all. And you never know who you’re going to meet where ever you go.