I don't believe in coincidence. I put no stock in random happenings. This is a world of people, of spirit and of infinite energy. On so many wondrous occassions, if we are open to them, those energies may well converge in a meeting of two people. Most would say this is chance, a coincidence, pure luck. I will tell you they are wrong.
These are the moments when two spirits recognize one another and move us closer together, fortunately enough without the knowledge of our conscious minds.
Sheridan Lintz reached out to me on LinkedIn, a place where this blog circulate pretty widely and, often, to my honest amazement. She had seen some of the posts via mutual connections, had read several others and decided she would reach out to me so we could meet and talk.
I served in the military for 13 years and in that time I have had the honor of meeting some remarkably courageous people. Sheridan ranks among the most courageous I have ever met, even at her young age of 20. How many among us would just reach out to someone we don't know to learn from them? It took me 38 years to be able to do the same thing she did within 20.
As we sit across from one another, sharing stories and bits of wisdom, her courage becomes even more clear. Courage is an interesting creature as we so often view it in the most extreme cases. Bravery is easy when the choice is to face fear or die, but when we have to face the things we will definitely live through, those things that go against what years and years of teaching have shown us, then courage is much harder to come by. Sheridan came here from Colorado, pursuing an apprenticeship and a future she cannot fully articulate because she cannot fully see it yet.
In a new place, a new part of the world, the courage of this young woman is a fire impossibly bright no matter how far from it you are.
Sheridan tells me about her life, about her love of weight lifting and horses. She is a storyteller by nature and we talk about the power of stories, about the most wondrous of human currency. I tell her how I came to be where I am now, about how not knowing your dreams can actually be a real blessing, but that, once you know what they are, you should stay true to them. She tells me of triumphs and victories, there are a lot of smiles and a little bit of coffee.
Then there are the cries, the moments where we all struggle, where we take the shine off of the shows of who we are, where we become vulnerable and connect. Sheridan tells me the stories of trials and tribulations in coming to a new city, about loss and about discoveries that can shift our lives. I tell her about my struggles, with both addiction and mental health. For a moment we remove the shine from ourselves, we become two people who hurt as well as fly. The highlight reels so common to social media go away and the reality of the human heart, of its capacity for sorrow and pain comes to the table.
It is not a sorrowful moment, but a courageous one.
We talk of faith. Both Sheridan and I have deep connections to our faith. We talk of a God who forgives, who loves and who supports us, nevertheless challenging us and calling us to something greater. She tells me of her walk, of her belief, but she spends more time listening. Sheridan is young, but she is wise and somehow she will pull wisdom from my 39 years of misadventures, trials and tribulations.
I tell her how I found God, the first time, after putting a gun in my mouth at 32 and pulling the trigger. I tell her about how I walked away from that same God for years, then found Him again when I was at the lowest point in my life, finding Him by walking away from everything. This is the same way I found myself.
There is no judgement there, no false sympathy, just the gentle gaze and playful smile of my friend Sheridan. Her eyes glitter, reflecting that fiery courage you can see so clearly from her. Somewhere along the winding road of our conversation, we have become friends. I can't tell you for certain the moment it happened, only that it was as easy as slipping into a warm bath; comforting and effortless.
There is a particular brilliance to this young storyteller, an energy I cannot label or place. I wouldn't want to if I could. So often we, as artists, look at someone younger, earlier in their journey, and reflect on seeing ourselves. In Sheridan I see none of myself as a storyteller. Instead I see her own light, brightly shining, even if she does not see it for herself. I know this is but one of many meetings, that we will share stories again and that I will learn even more from her than she will from me.
We see each other's hearts as they truly are. As the yogis say, "the honor the place in you that is the same as it is in me." We honor the spirit of storytellers that exist in both of us.
I head home with a lightened heart, an energized spirit with stories to tell. Sheridan tells me that this was a "divine appointment," set by God for two people to meet. I feel the same way.
All stories have two sides, as do so many things in life. I have tried my best to capture this uniquely marvelous spirit in words here.
But perhaps you should hear her side of the story...
Favorite Dinosaur: Gualicho Shinyae (Yep, it's a new one for me too.)
Why: She discovered it at the Denver Museum of Art and Science, one of her favorite places in the world. It's like the T Rex, but instead of little arms it just as stubs.