Does everything happen for a reason?

You may call it whatever you’d like. Karma, luck, coincidence, universal connection, destiny… The list goes on describing the energy that created this beautiful episode.

I was flying from Japan on my way to Cambodia with a layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As I boarded the large flight, my fingers were crossed that I had a decent seat considering the 8 hour flight I had just finished from Tokyo.

I was tired.

A small internal leap for joy occurred when I spotted my cozy location next to a window with only one passenger next to me. Glorious!

Happily settling in to my new temporary space, I put my reading book and iPad in the seat back in front of me and wedged my water bottle between me and the wall. Delighted that I’d only have one person to climb over during my frequent bathroom needs, I nuzzled in like a puppy next to a fire.

An elderly woman gently sat down next to me and I greeted her with a smile and a nice to meet you, don’t worry I’ll keep to myself nod. I noticed she seemed unsettled and a bit frazzled. Within moments, I found out why. The angelic woman turned to me and with a fragile voice said, “My husband is ill and we were seated seperatly, would you mind switching with him so we can be together?”.
The selfish side of me was sad to depart from the best seat on the plane, but without hesitation, I replied with some sort of “Of course, no worries”. I packed up my nook and looked for the man eagerly making his way to swap spots with me.

Ah, indeed his donation of a chair was in the middle seat of the compact center section of the plane. I tried to hide my deep breath as I realized that to one side of me would be a newborn in the lap of mom and on the other was a tech savvy teenager with his head buried in whatever device was in his hands.

I grinned as I awkwardly climbed over the young woman attempting to maneuver matrix style to avoid hitting the infant or the diaper bag blocking the foot path. I plopped down and started to unpack in hopes that this would be more comfortable than I was imagining. As I guided the diaper bag out of my way, the stressed mom leans in my direction and starts with an apology, “Excuse me, I’m sorry.”

Oh great.

“I’m flying with my daughter and mother, but my mom was seated apart from us. Would you mind switching with her so she can help take care of my little girl?”.

Almost giggling and knowing that the next neighborhood couldn’t be worse than this one, I quickly agreed and loaded up once more. By this time the flight attendants were pacing the aisles, securing doors and requesting all passengers to be seated for take off. I finally found my third attempt at a permanent spot and with relief, it was in the aisle. Nobody to climb over, leaning room on one side and an elbow partner that clearly wasn’t going to be a Chatty Cathy. Too exhausted to unpack quite yet, I leaned back with eyes closed to meditate my way back to being centered.

A small tap on my hand alerted me to the man on my left who was ready to talk. He politely asked if I’d like the middle seat. What? Who wants the middle seat!? I kindly said “no thank you” as my eyes wandered to his quivering hands. Beaded with sweat and clearly anxious, I asked if he was nervous.

His response was clear, “I don’t like to fly”.

At this point it was routine, so I quietly stood for him to have the aisle. Suppressing my desire to either break down or laugh hestarically, I sat slowly in the middle seat, leaned back once more with my eyes closed and took a deep breath.

“That was really nice what you did”. I heard a voice next to the window. It was a youthful female with a kind tone and a genuine smile that greeted my sight when I peered over.
“Awh thanks…. He’s nervous” I whispered.
“No”, she said, “I’ve watched you go from seat to seat that landed you here and that’s really kind of you. Hi, I’m Bree”.

That is how Bree and I met and that was the first day of many adventures to come.

This flight included a lengthy discussion that surrounded wonderful topics from traveling to relationships, health to the definition of happiness. You would of thought we had a script in front of us judging from the ease of the organic conversation.

Here’s a photo from the very plane ride I described above.

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Proceeding this flight, we departed ways as I was volunteering in Phnom Pehn and she was off to connect with a friend outside of the city. We were able to meet up just for a moment with high hopes to plan a small reunion in Thailand.

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Several weeks later, we (with the beautiful help of the universe) came back together in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Ten days, uncountable miles on foot, tastes of shared dishes, shopping through thrift stores, local gatherings, a Thai massage and one cooking class… We had “bonded” to say the least.

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At the end of our time together, we had already discussed when and where the next connection would be. To save you the details, I’ll just tell you with joy and wonderful memories, that we landed our reunion in Barbados!

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Our departure from the island was on the same flight and allowed for an emotional babble to reminisce of our past and wishfully dream for the future. Where next? How soon? The answers are still yet to be discovered, but one thing is for sure… I have found a dear soul that has enhanced my journey beyond what I could of imagined. Here’s the last photo we took together on our way back to the U.S.

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Dear Bree,
I have 6 dollars and a bag of nuts…

BREE HAD A RESPONSE TO THIS POST:

“Dear Erika,
I remember that first plane ride all too well. I was exhausted [I had spent the entire 24 hours before with my Bali family soaking up every moment until my 4am flight out of Denpasar], terrified [I was heading out of my safe Bali bubble into a the real backpacking world, alone, with no preparation, and very little idea of what was ahead of me], devastated [you of all people know the high I was coming down from, having spent the most spectacular four weeks of my life on an island of love and healing]… and did I mention I was exhausted?

I was looking forward to sleeping the entire flight from KL to Cambodia. I was looking forward to nestling in my little window seat. I was looking forward to some silence to meditate on my time in and away from my piece of heaven. I was looking forward to wallowing in my own self pity and shed my tears in peace.

LUCKY FOR ME this ball of light – all smiles and silver rings with big eyes and even bigger smiles – sat down next to me and burst my pity bubble like some sort of star exploding into a supernova. Did I mention this supernova came prepared with a snack bag?

I remember our conversation. I remember Indian Santa Clause, as he has been fondly called since that moment on. I remember thinking, “Excuse me? People like you exist?” I remember feeling blessed all over again and coming around to the idea that my “Bali bubble” was actually just a “life bubble” all along and the happiness and love was all around.

I remember Cambodia – gorging on popcorn and hot sauce with Semhal like it was our last meal and marathoning movies with Candice on those harem beds.

I remember Thailand – running around like some sort of street food fiends, looking for the banana leaf with the most bizarre filling and stalking the egg lady like she was some sort of bounty we were hunting. Not to mention all the “you will never believe what happened to me at work…” moments.

I remember every grand adventure and giggle fit; every beautiful happy memory. But do you want to know what I remember most? I remember you cutting your Barbados trip two weeks short and waiting on me hand and foot; walking miles in the rain to pick up coconut water and medicine, calling every doctor on the island to see who could do a house call, preparing all my meals for me, washing and braiding my hair to make me feel a little more human, and most importantly making me laugh hysterically any chance you got. I remember thinking, “good lord, what have I done in my life to deserve such altruism, such friendship, such love?”

I still think those things almost every day. There are a handful of moments in my life that I can look back on as flashes of “Karma, luck, coincidence, universal connection, destiny” that visibly and drastically changed the course of my life. Your game of musical chairs on that small Malaysian airline… I’m too scared to even imagine my life without it.”

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Categories: Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Does everything happen for a reason?

  1. Dear Erika,

    I remember that first plane ride all too well. I was exhausted [I had spent the entire 24 hours before with my Bali family soaking up every moment until my 4am flight out of Denpasar], terrified [I was heading out of my safe Bali bubble into a the real backpacking world, alone, with no preparation, and very little idea of what was ahead of me], devastated [you of all people know the high I was coming down from, having spent the most spectacular four weeks of my life on an island of love and healing]… and did I mention I was exhausted?

    I was looking forward to sleeping the entire flight from KL to Cambodia. I was looking forward to nestling in my little window seat. I was looking forward to some silence to meditate on my time in and away from my piece of heaven. I was looking forward to wallowing in my own self pity and shed my tears in peace.

    LUCKY FOR ME this ball of light – all smiles and silver rings with big eyes and even bigger smiles – sat down next to me and burst my pity bubble like some sort of star exploding into a supernova. Did I mention this supernova came prepared with a snack bag?

    I remember our conversation. I remember Indian Santa Clause, as he has been fondly called since that moment on. I remember thinking, “Excuse me? People like you exist?” I remember feeling blessed all over again and coming around to the idea that my “Bali bubble” was actually just a “life bubble” all along and the happiness and love was all around.

    I remember Cambodia – gorging on popcorn and hot sauce with Semhal like it was our last meal and marathoning movies with Candice on those harem beds.

    I remember Thailand – running around like some sort of street food fiends, looking for the banana leaf with the most bizarre filling and stalking the egg lady like she was some sort of bounty we were hunting. Not to mention all the “you will never believe what happened to me at work…” moments.

    I remember every grand adventure and giggle fit; every beautiful happy memory. But do you want to know what I remember most? I remember you cutting your Barbados trip two weeks short and waiting on me hand and foot; walking miles in the rain to pick up coconut water and medicine, calling every doctor on the island to see who could do a house call, preparing all my meals for me, washing and braiding my hair to make me feel a little more human, and most importantly making me laugh hysterically any chance you got. I remember thinking, “good lord, what have I done in my life to deserve such altruism, such friendship, such love?”

    I still think those things almost every day. There are a handful of moments in my life that I can look back on as flashes of “Karma, luck, coincidence, universal connection, destiny” that visibly and drastically changed the course of my life. Your game of musical chairs on that small Malaysian airline… I’m too scared to even imagine my life without it.

  2. Robin Stanley

    Lovely story, Erika!

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