Life's a journey.
This is one of those phrases I have heard more in my life than most others. A simple reminder that we do not pass the decades, the years or the months by hopping from destination to destination, but rather on the road between these points. Those steps on those paths are where we build our memories, exercise our passions and gain our wisdom among other things. Yet with all of this travelling, and our awareness of it, we so often find ourselves believing we have mapped our life journey long before its completion. We forget where we came from, forget that once we had no idea what was coming next, or at least we were much more able to admit it.
Lauren Powers was Connection 63, a young woman starting on her journey, smart enough to ask questions, passionate enough to be truly excited and wise well beyond her years. In first meeting her I was struck by her candor, her curiosity and the amazing mind and heart she has. Lauren is very much the person I wish I had been at her age, 23, but was definitely not. She was full of questions, seeking to learn from others who had walked before her, to learn from their histories as she wrote her own. I was a huge fan.
Since our connection, Lauren and Mary Ann Lilly, Connection 30 and Everyday, have met and begun to build a friendship. In light of that information it only seemed right for Mary Ann to come along as Lauren and I reconnected to talk about life, lessons learned and, of course, greatness.
Before we met for dinner, Lauren sent me a question that managed to occupy my mind for most of the day. She wanted to know who in history I thought had truly changed the world. It's a great question, the kind I expect from Lauren, but it is also much deeper than the surface would suggest. As we met for dinner and talked, she tells Mary Ann and I about how the scope of changing the world is different for each of us. Did Caesar change the world? Certainly, but so did your parents. How many people do we meet in a given day? And how many of them have the potential to change our lives?
As she speaks my mind runs through a list of 100 who changed my world, who saved my life. She is one of them.
Lauren talks about greatness, about how we find ourselves intimidated by it. We tend to look at the task of "changing the world" and believe it is beyond us. Are we wrong when we think that? No, Lauren tells me, but the real problem is not the idea of changing the world, but the fact that we see the world as this large unapproachable goal instead of the people right beside us, in front of us, who we can change the world for with a simple act or kind word. As she speaks I am reminded that I haven't even come close to mapping my journey, much less figuring it all out.
Lauren has a glow in her eye you can't miss. It's the type of thing you see and find yourself longing to know what those eyes see when they look at you. Even more so when that glow sparks a bit more and she smiles, a smile of a friend. That look leaves you with no doubt that you're her friend, and she values you, your time, the entire thing. Lauren Powers invests in people, she believes in them, she loves them. We could all stand to be a little more like Lauren.
Lauren has travelled more and more on her road since our Connection. Like all journeys, some days have been wonderful, others have been hard. We all sit around an outside table, we eat ice cream and talk about journeys. We talk about the hard parts. It is easy to be a friend when a person is winning, when you look at them and see them scarless and triumphant. It is harder when you see their flaws, more so when you see them actively hurt. The people you turn to and embrace when they are hurting are special, they hold a great place in our hearts. They aren't just friends, those hearts of theirs have joined ours, they have become family.
And so we three members of this family sit at a table and talk about the hard times.
We smile and we cry. Our hearts life in triumph and break a little when one of us hurts. All of us know pain, know loss and hurt, some of us have just had more time to hurt than others. We talk about growing, about caring for ourselves and taking care of each other. No one person holds court here, we are all just here, hearts joined, in order to lift each other up. In the dark of night, when things seem at their worst, we sit together and make a light.
I have spent so much of my life wondering what family really is, seeking out some answer and hoping for insight. Family is simple, it is this table, but family can be difficult because we have to put ourselves away for a moment. We must invest in each other and care, share our stories, smile and cry together. Lauren knows this. We should all be a bit more like Lauren.
Around this table, on this night, through these talks, over pizza and ice cream, we have become family. With words and simple embraces we have done something incredible. We have changed the world. Not once, but many times for each of us sitting here. So many seek to change the world, so many fail, and yet we have done so in a few hours. It is easy to look at my past, at the road I have walked, and to think I have gained wisdom and knowledge of the path to come.
This is why I love people, because they surprise you. As a young woman, starting her journey helped me change the world once, then twice, then again.
We could all do to be a little more like Lauren.