I continue to be amazed at the random, and yet seemingly serendipitous, ways that existence unfolds before us. There have been many times that I’ve been surprised at how slight changes in my choices or plans have effects that result in chance encounters & experiences that I otherwise would’ve missed.

In retrospect, it’s easy to rationalize these occurrences or to attempt to explain them away, but I’ve now begun to simply experience these events, smile & be thankful for the alignments that had to take place to allow these encounters to happen.

I recall one run that I went on last year where, for various reasons, I changed my regular start time & route – for no obvious reasons other than that’s the way my day was playing out, and I was happy to follow along. I chose a different route on the way back home and was looking out for traffic while crossing the street when I heard a person calling “Larry!”. I was able to quickly get my bearings and see where the call came from and to my surprise, I literally ran into a colleague I used to work with years prior. He had moved to Vancouver and while we were contacts on LinkedIn, we really hadn’t kept in touch. He just back visiting for a work-related training event and just happened to arrive that day and was making his way to an Airbnb. It was great to catch up and hear how he & his family were doing. Again, a chance encounter that wouldn’t have happened if I left my home 5 minutes earlier or later, and didn’t choose the route I did.

Today while walking to the grocery store for the second part of the weekend shopping, I encountered a young guy walking down the street with a bass guitar on a strap around his shoulders. Being a bass player myself, it just seemed polite to say “hi, nice bass!”. He thanked me and we continued to talk for a few minutes. He was quite open with his challenges with mental health, but that didn’t want to make me shy away from talking with him. I could definitely sense the artist within him, in the way he spoke & carried himself. When the church bells in the distance struck 8 o’clock, he paused out of respect for the bells and waited to begin speaking again once the last chime had faded out.

He asked me for my opinion on a song he’s writing. Without an amp, it’s difficult to hear a bass guitar but I saw what he was playing and listened to his voice as he sang the lyrics. He was concerned that it was too wordy and that the anger in the lyrics might put people off. I didn’t find that the case at all and affirmed to him that he was telling a story, and that it work well even though the rhythm of the vocal line differed from the bass line.

He thanked me for my opinion and told me that it was his birthday and in light of the current constraints, was feeling a little out of sorts not being able to celebrate the way he would’ve with his friends. He then thanked me again, for taking the time to talk with him in spite of his perceived mental state, although I found him to be quite lucid, clear & calm. I wished him a happy birthday and reminded him to stay curious & creative and we parted ways, with him continuing down the street with his bass on his shoulder.

A random meeting, a chance to engage with another human being, with an open mind & heart, a chance to stop listening to my biases & fears, and to wish someone a happy birthday.

I’ll reflect back on this and think about whether the universe was showing me an experience I needed to have, something I needed to learn, or asking me to share some positive energy with someone who needed it. Or it might’ve just been a random encounter with a bassist on the street.