The world is awfully small!
There are times when life simple meanders away; on a straight lifeless line, sure things are happening and you might tell all your friends you’re really busy, but life feels like it’s on the Nullarbor of its journey. Then there are those times when you just feel ‘something quite spectacular just happened’. Even in the smallest of moments, you think, ‘that just happened for a reason’. Of all the paths that lead our lives, it somehow led to that one incidental occurrence. This just happened to me this weekend.
For many many weeks, I’ve been putting off booking flights to Melbourne this very weekend despite full well knowing I was, one, going to head over and, two, had no excuse not to. But it was the previous week of events that led my path on a downhill slope to this incredible moment.
I am asked to attend an important meeting at my football club, I thought as an offsider, a different set of eyes for my team’s head coach. The topic was about the future, the purpose of ‘us’ as a club. One minute into the meeting I’m offered a very honourable role at the club and the timing seemed odd but... timely. Ensued was our needs (recruiting) and the weekend ahead’s trip seemed more purposeful than first thought.
Trying to fathom how I was going to even initiate such a role, and its requirements were daunting, let alone execute it. We had targets but none more so than those associated with me personally. What this would lead to was something more powerful than anything I could imagine.
Someone from my workplace poses me a question, “do you know this guy who use to be involved with this club?” They had made the connection I was from the same country Victorian town and assumed, and rightly so, that everyone knows everyone in small towns. Without thinking anymore of it, I went back to the normal daily process. Isn’t it crazy how this in itself popped into the conversation if we take into consideration what was about to ensue?
I rummage through a backpack ready for the Friday night trip and ready myself for the necessities of two nights away. Nothing too abnormal here, though when I reach into the back pocket, an old cricket club photo appears. We have recently moved and as you do, we threw the last of the past into any space it would fit. I scanned across the faces that resided within, not only this club photo but also my distant memory. Sure enough, the person from the conversation from Wednesday, his brother and his father; a great man who sadly took his life a few years ago. It got me thinking about my role at this club and the support I offer as a leader in the mental health of others. The cricket photo sat in front of me, the Aussies were on Tele beyond that and a conversation, via Messenger, was in full swing with a lad experiencing some battles mentally at present. I thought deeply about this; its connections to me and my work, both present and in the past. This lead my mind to both the family in the photo, and their struggles, and the group of men who presented to me, then later, helped spark my passion for workshops in the area in Western Australia. I thought nothing more of it... that night.
I fly into Melbourne, ninety minutes late and starving. But, being the frugal man I am, my hunger wasn’t demanding me spend $12.50 for a croissant just yet. I decided to grab a Boost Juice smoothie instead. Whilst waiting, I turn my head only to see, the very next customer in line, Zac, one of the men who taught me the skills for these workshops. He was on his way to Darwin, for his next adventure aiding the community. We chatted for a half hour before his flight boarded. On the Skybus, I decided to rendezvous, via Messenger (it’s such a connected world we live in), *Suze; the mother of the boys, and widow to their father from the photo. ‘It was a sign’, I thought as I reached for my phone and begun to type. She had often kept in contact about one thing or another these past few years and, often, we’d cross paths if I was back in my country town previous to that. Both Suze and her late husband always had a soft spot for me and often asked me to house sit when away and once asked if I could look after the boys when the couple went to dinner. Small towns, small favours, small connections, small signs in a big big world.
I’m sitting at a suburban football match and flicking between the real match in front and the state league game on the 7Plus app. The trip started to become more about recruiting players than anything else at this stage. Funnily enough, Suze’s son had done a segment for the halftime show about the life lessons he and his mum had learned, alongside his footy journey. It was a flashback, but a ‘head-shaker’ all the same. I scrolled through my Messenger to see if Suze had written back. I noticed it was, as too another profile of hers, disconnected. ‘Strange’, I thought. Nothing more of it, I turn my attention back to the game in view.
Dad and I head to the Crown before the Western Bulldogs’ game. I had a lunch date and dad, one with the pokies. In my view whilst I’m dining I see, another prominent figure from my past, my first captain at senior level footy and my junior cricket coach (yes, same club) from my little country town of origin! Things are incredibly 'weirding out' right now for me. Melbourne, a population of over five million, offers many strange faces but never strange occurrences like this. Within twenty minutes, I’m off to find Dad and head to the game. He doesn’t answer his phone at first, though he send through an electronic ticket. 'He must’ve left already,' I think. I take off out on the 500m stroll toward Marvel Stadium, only to have Dad ringing, letting me know he hadn’t left just yet. I turn back and wait for him to catch up. This five-minute delay, like many others over the weekend, means a great deal for the culmination of this blog. So, hang in there. Together, Dad and I head off, en route the footy. I’m replying to another Messenger correspondence (I too, am wondering whether I should flick this device at this point - seem to have it active a lot!) I’m crossing an intersection, head down in my phone when I’m squeezed on my arm. ‘A passer-by, getting her loved ones mixed up’ I first presume. You are not going to believe this! It was Suze! In the middle of a road, in the middle of an intersection, in the middle of Melbourne! You wouldn’t read about it- well now you are! After a giant hug and a brief awkwardness of not knowing which way to get off the road, we choose her way and stand in shock! Long story short, we trade numbers and vow to chat later.
I remember a story Mum told me of this guy who she was seeing before Dad. He begged her not to follow Dad down to the country, away from him, and, history stands, she didn't listen and here I am today. Bu what her incredible link to this tale is that, whilst answering phones at the place of work, she picked up one day to an eerily familiar voice.
"Lyn? Lyn Crawford?" a voice stammers on the other end of the line.
"Yes," Mum replies.
"It's me, John." The guy from twenty-five odd years earlier! He died a fortnight later.
So there it is, one interesting week of reminiscing, realigning and the complete reconsidering the power of fate. The recipe to life has many varying ingredients but surely sprinkled in all of our lives is that undeniable fate!