Life is messy, and amazing. The messiness of the world is a source of my optimism. The grandest plans aren’t nearly as effective as serendipity, and serendipity can’t be planned. A friend had a dose of that this weekend, and it is a reminder of what can happen to anyone – even me.
As usual, discretion suggests I use pronouns rather than names, because the story is more important and because I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s privacy.
- My friend had a meeting for which “her thanks know no bounds”. She met and talked with an inner circle of well connected, resourceful, and enthusiastic people. Just what a large, important, under-appreciated project needs.
- The meeting happened because of a missed flight. These things happen, but it meant more time at an innovative conference during the most important time: the unstructured, informal conversations that happen outside the agenda.
- She wasn’t on the original roster, but she was invited to be part of a panel. Most folks would moan at being part of the last panel of the conference, but it turned out to be a good thing because her story was fresh in the minds of the folks who hung around.
- She found out about the conference because of a chance conversation I had.
- A few months ago I met one of the organizers, heard about the conference, and made the connection.
- I wasn’t trying to meet the organizers, and hadn’t known about the conference, but was working with the organizer’s partner on a different, ultimately failed project.
- We started working on the project because a friend of his recommended his skills at audio and video production.
- The friend that suggested him was part of the project, but not at the start. We needed a third, and invited her.
- The audio project was the idea of someone else, the editor for a web site I write for.
- I write for his site simply because he and I worked from the same coworks space. He needed some help, and I provided it.
- I was in the coworks space because it was difficult to work from my house when it was threatened with foreclosure.
Because of the threat of foreclosure, I used the coworks, where I met the guy who started the project, that worked best with a third person, who I recommended, who recommended the producer guy, who is the partner of the conference organizer, who was receptive to the idea of my friend giving a talk, who gave the talk, but made a mistake in the departure itinerary, but ended up making some potentially vital connections for her project. Along the way, the coworks closed, the editor backed out of his project, the third person, backed out as well, and the project evaporated.
I enjoy program planning (really, I do), but I also appreciate that the world doesn’t follow a plan that we can see. Every outcome was preceded by a long string of failed plans, sincere intent for something else, and a long line of people saying yes to the next thing instead of just saying no at the first opportunity.
I have plans, most of which are dammed, and I realize that any eventual success may have nothing to do with my original direction, intent, or expectation. The potentials that surround my life are a massive mix of energetic initiatives combining in ways I can’t predict. Good. As one friend foretold, “You will succeed in ways you can’t imagine.” Considering that I’m a very imaginative guy, I try to imagine what I haven’t imagined. Then I shake my head and have a drink.
I have goals. Most of us do. Our society has goals, which are a massive mix of conflicting agendas, uneven resources, and bizarre circumstances. As long as we keep working at it, as long as we don’t try to control the mixing, we may yet produce a messy and amazing solution to our problems that none of us can imagine. I’m optimistic.