Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Happens When?

Is your life totally predetermined where each turn you take, each decision you make, leads you to exactly where you are right now, exactly where you are supposed to be? Or is your journey a series of totally random twists and turns, where a left turn can change your life forever, where a thought to stop for coffee can make a huge difference in the end game? This is the question that is posed in the new Nicholas Cage movie “Knowing” and I have to share how going to see that movie yesterday would lead to a very strange series of events playing out in my life.

I work nights and typically sleep most days. Yesterday I went to sleep much earlier than usual when I got home. A contractor knocked on my door a few hours later. Totally unannounced he had come by to see if he could fix a warranty problem in our new home. I got up earlier than usual. My wife was supposed to work on Friday but had taken the day off to visit the doctor. My daughter called from school in the late afternoon to say she was coming home early because she wasn’t feeling well. So we all ended up free to spend the day together and decided to go to the movies. We went to see “Knowing” and although my daughter watched most of the show looking through her fingers (she does that for scary movies), my wife and I enjoyed the show and the very cool special effects.

As we left the movie theatre I wondered to myself whether we should go out for dinner. My wife has been considering changing her job. We had seen a posting for a Thai restaurant looking for new staff. I asked if she wanted to go there to eat and check the place out. As soon as we sat down we were greeted by the restaurant owner. He was very nice and we struck up a conversation. My wife said she was Thai and the owner almost immediately said he was looking for staff and if she knew anyone looking for a job she should let them know. She said she may be looking herself and that led to a long conversation and a promise to go back today to talk some more. It all seemed strange to me, because I had been just as close to going straight home from that movie, as I had been to going for dinner. We had already filled ourselves with popcorn and coke.

You might think this is no big deal. Wait until you hear this next part. As we were finishing our delicious meal and talking amongst ourselves, the guy next to me started laughing. He turned his head and said my name. I looked at him and for a moment had absolutely not a clue who he was. Do you guys ever have those brief moments of anxiety when you think you should know someone but you don’t? Wondering if maybe you have lost your mind or Alzheimer’s has shown up for a visit. 

Then it hit me! It was Dominic …. I remember … my brain still works! I was looking at Dominic or Don as we called him back in the day. We had been friends since grade five, good friends through the teenage years. We used to fish together. I went to his wedding but I hadn’t laid eyes on the guy for over twenty years. The memories came rushing back. It was great to see an old friend. We shared stories about how life had changed. He has three kids now and a salt and pepper hair style, but other than that he really hasn’t changed much. He admitted that I looked different. I couldn’t argue with that. After all, the hair is gone now. I’ve got the groovy bifocals going on and I’m much heavier than I once was.

If this isn’t all strange enough, this was his first trip to the restaurant, as it was ours. He was driving home and fighting off a little sinus congestion. He decided to stop for a bowl of hot and spicy soup hoping it might help him breathe a little easier. So here we sat, after a series of lefts and rights, right beside each other after over 20 years apart. Does life get any stranger than that? Was it totally random or all in the cards? Was it destined to be this way no matter what we did? If you choose to believe in God, I dare say you might just laugh and say he works in strange ways.

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