I'm beginning to think there's no such thing as "the road not taken" because the longer you're around the more likely you will find that road again, in one sense or another. Several weeks ago I had a "six degrees of separation" experience that transcended any before.
A friend called and asked if I would drive another friend arriving from L.A. to visit a sick relative. I agreed and contacted the visitor C-- to arrange a schedule. As we talked about the city I mentioned a street where I used to live. C-- said "Oh! I lived on that street too when I was little. What number?" The answer shocked C--. "I lived there for a short while before we moved!"
It was gradually revealed that C-- was a person who definitely knew what she wanted from a young age and fearlessly pursued it, even with little resources/contacts or clear idea how to achieve it. C-- would do whatever it took to get there -- except compromise principles. This is in the intensely competitive world of acting that until recently (for me at least) was one of the few volatile fields to jump into.
Against the backdrop of the day visiting the excellent facility, elderly being cared for and struggling with Alzheimer's, we talked about having faith that we can realize our dreams.
I told C-- I had briefly considered acting but believed it was too much of a gamble, even when I got a juicy part in a play at a small theater. The lead was a young man who came in as a last minute replacement with a very dynamic and powerful interpretation. After the run I would see him a few years later in a major motion picture, followed by several more where he was a character actor. When you see someone you know make it, you inevitably wonder about that road not taken.
When I told her about this young man, she realized with dawning amazement I was describing her husband. Needless to say this was a mind-blower for both of us. A chance call from a mutual friend wound up connecting her to 2 parts of her past and one of her present.
At the end of that week/beginning of the next I attended a memorial service for Keith Elam, known as the rapper "Guru", who passed away too early at the age of 48 from cancer. Here again was another profile in courage.
He chose his own path, created his own style; and in another highly competitive field he did not compromise his artistic vision, combining hip-hop/rap with jazz. His family is very accomplished in professions such as law and education, but he took another route and inspired them as well. I saw his father certainly enjoyed a tune played at the remembrance: "When Harry Met Barbara".
One of the many tributes that resonated with me was when a relative wished him well in his now complete and unmitigated freedom to be who he wanted to be.
I share all of this to express the coincidence of concepts that I was reminded of as I advance on this journey (credit to both C-- and Guru):
- The tenuousness of Life: we don't know when our health will fail
- The realization that we won't ever know unless we try despite how daunting it seems (or we tell ourselves)
- The fact that fortune happens generally to those who put themselves in position to allow it
- All we have is now and make the most of the moment
- Don't repress yourself