My first wife had died about a year and a half before, and I was still feeling the effects of that. That morning I was generally unhappy. I didn't know what to do with my life. As I recall, I wasn't really happy about being down in Southern California either, but there was really nothing back home. I had finished teaching my first semester, and was getting ready to go work in the ICU again.
I was drifting.
I got in the car and onto the 405. As I was driving, a thought came into my mind. "Maybe something wonderful is going to happen". I'm not exactly sure where it came from, but I was reading a book by Marilynne Robinson called Gilead. In it, the protagonist, who is an old man, was musing on how sometimes the most extraordinary things arise from the most mundane. How, perhaps, a chance encounter turns into a lifelong friendship. You never really know.
Maybe something wonderful is going to happen.
I went to the Mass and couldn't stop thinking about it. I remember wanting to tap the shoulder of the person sitting in the pew in front of me and tell them about it. After Mass I went to a coffee shop and randomly ran into my niece, and we had coffee together. I wondered if that was it, but it seemed like it was more than that.
I continued to ponder it, and it eventually turned into a mindset. I knew something was going to happen (maybe), and I also knew that I needed to pay attention so I wouldn't overlook it. That was kind of the point that the protagonist was making--everything that we encounter has the possibility of being life-changing.
After that, all sorts of wonderful things happened. They still happen. Most of them aren't life-changing, but a few have been.
Two days later, I attended a seminar in Santa Monica put on by Doctors Without Borders. That was the genesis for my trip to Southeast Asia, where I learned to be a photographer, and would meet the woman who is now my wife. After that, all sorts of wonderful things happened. They still happen. Most of them aren't life-changing, but a few have been.
I often refer back to the photo journal I was keeping ten years ago, but this picture was from my other journal, myasma, the one that preceded this one. It was taken that evening, underneath the Seal Beach Pier, one of the my places of refuge in Southern California.
I stopped writing in that journal and started this one in October of 2006, when I made the decision to go to Southeast Asia. I was ready for a new start. Interestingly, I noted in the first entry of this journal that I was "still walking a lot, but not every day". Now I know when getting out of the habit started.
As I was writing about how it had been the second anniversary of my ordination back then, I realized that today is now the 12th anniversary. I don't have a ministry any more, but I am still a deacon.