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How We Find Each Other

Our dog was in a wedding this weekend. She was one of the flower girls. It sounds funny, and of course she was adorable, but it’s actually a symbol of something much bigger. We met the bride, and eventually the groom, because of that dog. We were all part of Canine Companions for Independence. Emily was the puppy raiser of Nugget and we became the Breeder-Caretakers, when CCI decided Nugget would be a breeder of future service dogs. It sounds a bit convoluted, but it’s not unlike every close connection we have. Most of the people we love came into our lives in some unplanned way—our veering, complex paths crossed, and there we were.

Of course this isn't true for every relationship. We have come to be involved with many people simply because we worked together, or lived next door to each other, or were part of the same club or church or team. But when we consider those to whom we have grown close, it's worth paying attention to the initial tiny connection that brought us together. A meeting, or a common event might find two people seated next to each other, but it’s a conversation about their childhoods, or something they both find funny, that makes this different than all of the other people they meet in a day or a week.

It’s all there really is, this way we move together as humans.

My dog as a flower girl brought this to my attention most recently, but the older I get the more I think about the intricacies of how we all find each other in the world. I still replay little movies in my head of those seemingly random moments when I encountered my people for the first time. I’m not sure I believe in fate, or that things are meant to be, but those early connections with people—the time just before you knew them and everything after—are telling in their clarity. And as I age, the nostalgic part of me gets keener. Songs on the radio, a particular street I drive down, a neighborhood I used to live in—they create pictures of all of the moments I’ve lived up to now. In their own way, they’re rich and lush and yet obviously as fleeting as can be.

It’s all just a reminder that what happens in the small moments in our lives is everything. It’s that lovely conversation about creativity, or hearing a song we both love, the light through the trees, the air thick and sweet-smelling. It’s that feeling of knowing you can count on this person, or they on you, even though you’ve only known each other briefly. Most of us can remember not just the day, but the moment, we met the primary people in our lives. At the time, even though we might have felt happy or excited, we had no idea we would wind around to this day. But looking back, the replay of that occasion serves as the souvenir we’ve carried with us since.

As my hair grays and my wistfulness about life seems to heighten, I’m also feeling a growing appreciation of the power of all of these small moments. I find myself wanting to hold onto them now more than ever. I want to relish the feeling of walking for coffee with my friend Kim—maybe the hundredth time we've done it in the many years we’ve known each other; or preparing a meal with Mary; recounting my week via text with Dianne; processing our days at our jobs with Doug; listing the things we feel grateful for with Jodi.

I don’t know that I realized how much every moment would mean to me at this point in my life. I shudder when I think of how many I let fly by when I was young and felt like I had forever to nourish appreciation. Now I know a really good conversation when I’m in one. I am fully aware of how lucky I am in a thousand different ways. I want to slow it down—always—so I can feel every last second of a long spring afternoon or a great meal shared at the dining room table. None of this is to say that life can’t be humdrum from time to time, but there's so much more. I know a cute dog in a wedding is a rare and fortuitous event, but in truth so is practically every connection with every person we open ourselves to. It’s all there really is, this way we move together as humans. It’s a dance and a slog, but it means we’re alive. And very lucky.

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