We Are All More Connected Than We Think

This is a short story in the form of a touching email I received recently. It demonstrates how life sometimes comes full circle in odd and delightful ways.

When Dan and I recall all the unusual yet universal connections we’ve uncovered throughout our travels and life experiences, we often reflect on how “we’re all more connected than we think.” However, each time we accept this maxim and settle comfortably into its implications, life surprises us once again in an odd, humbling and inspiring way.

A few weeks ago, we’d just arrived in Berlin, fresh off of speaking at the World Domination Summit (WDS) conference in Portland. Then, I received this email. The story just blew me away, but I hesitated to share it, my inner skeptic saying maybe people won’t feel it like I did. But every time I tell the story, listeners are struck.

So it’s time to share the story with you.

The only context I think you’ll need: When Dan and I left for the first chapter of our lives together abroad in November 2001, we moved from San Francisco to Prague. In slimming down to six bags, one of the many items we divested ourselves of was a maroon 1989 Honda Accord hatchback.

dear audrey and dan,

i saw your presentation at the wds conference in portland last weekend. i’m so glad you were chosen as the impromptu speakers because i thought your presentation was phenomenal! so many of your words resonated with me. we are all connected, indeed.

and i have a suspicion you and i are even more connected than we think…

about ten years ago (or maybe more) when i was living in san francisco, i had purchased a used car from a lovely woman. it was a honda accord in maroon color. i didn’t check out too many details of the car because i felt a strong sense of connection with the woman who sold it to me. she said she was moving to prague for an indefinite period of time, and i immediately felt a sense of kinship. i, too, am an avid traveler. when the car purchase was made, i met her husband briefly. he had been reading a book by ken wilber, and i immediately recognized the book.

i always remembered that woman. she left her necklace hanging in the car – it was a round crystal-like piece that shimmered in the sun because of its clear translucent color. at the center, you can see a very subtle “A” inscribed within. it always reminded of the lovely woman, because her name was audrey. after many years after having sold the honda, i kept the necklace with me. it reminded of the lovely woman, and her spirit of luck and grace remained with me. it now sits inside my car, a used diesel volkswagen golf.

after so many years, i believe the wds conference is a very fitting to place to run into the both of you again, if indeed you are the couple i had met in san francisco. i hope to meet again in person soon.

blessings to you both,

vina lustado

We are indeed that couple.

Thank you, Vina for taking time to send this email and for allowing us to publish it. To receive it meant so much to us. It took us back to a very special moment in our lives, when we were in the process of making a rather frightening life leap — moving to a new country without jobs or security of any kind.

That initial leap was the first of many that led us to where we are today.

—-

The lesson? Life is full of coincidence, of course. But well beyond that, if there’s no other reason to be a decent person, it might be this: you’ll make impressions and those impressions will take on a life of their own. They may last longer than you can ever imagine, and maybe they’ll come back to make you smile one day.

We are all more connected than we think.

This, I’m certain, is a good thing.

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Comments

  1. says

    Audrey, I love that you posted this! It’s funny as the other day I was speaking about this very issue with my manager of making an impression on someone and how it much can last! Why were we speaking about this? Well, because me and my fiance too have quit our jobs and decided to move to a place without any jobs secured there.

    Keep doing what you guys do as you are an inspiration!

  2. says

    Great story! I’m constantly running into reminders that the world is smaller than we think (just the other week I ran into a girl I haven’t seen since high school – we met in Singapore, both of us have moved several times since then, and I ran into her in Copenhagen), and I absolutely love it.

  3. says

    Wow, that’s incredible! I’m not sure that I’ve had quite that same coincidence but I do believe the world is small! I met a girl in a desert in Jordan that was currently roommates with my childhood friend back in the States. I have many of those ‘friend of a friend’ stories from traveling. With the world so interconnected these days, it’s amazing to see just how small it can become :)

  4. says

    What a wonderful post! I consider myself very lucky to have gotten to know both of you (a little) and completely understand how Vina would remember you both so fondly.
    We go through this life and never fully understand the impact we create in some peoples world.
    I hope to see you again soon! :)

  5. says

    Travel makes the world a very small place. I believe the positive energy that emanated from the two of you pulled you towards one another. It was meant to happen. There was unfinished business. God knew that this last connection would not only touch your lives again, but inspire thousands more. This story centered around a car transaction. Tomorrow, it can be one of us in the grocery store, the bus stop, work, etc. Everyday, we are presented with opportunities to impact people and leave our mark on the world. Your one word of encouragement could prevent someone from taking their life. Your story could inspire someone to go after their dreams. We all have the power like Audrey, we just got to use it. Live On Purpose. Strive daily to impact that life of others.

  6. says

    Audrey, I’m so glad you decided to share this story! This is a powerful reminder that we impact other people in ways we will sometimes never know. It is also a gentle nudge to let other people know when they’ve impacted you – it makes a difference in their lives, too, and brings it all full circle.

    Enjoy your birthday weekend in Paris, Audrey!

  7. says

    thank YOU, audrey, for posting this article – i am so touched by all the comments. and so glad that we found each other full circle!

    it’s not surprising that the common theme that binds us together is travel. although we originally met in sf and reconnected in portland, we have obviously spent most of our time outside of the u.s. and apparently lots of time in germany. it would be wonderful to meet again in person.

    wishes for a lovely birthday to a lovely person…

  8. says

    Amazing! Just thought this would be a perfect story for a book! If you’re thinking about selling it to Hollywood tweak a little love story in it and there you have the next Ryan Gosling movie :D

  9. Donna Sanders says

    I believe there are NO coincidences…after 65 yrs on this planet it has been proved to me time and time again,,,I love when the universe balances,,if we just let go~Lovely story…

  10. Don says

    Hi Guys – This is a lovely, uplifting and joyous sharing so please help me to understand why I am sitting here with a lump in my throat trying to fight back tears and losing the struggle.

  11. Pete De Ritter says

    Here’s another connection for you. My daughter and I visited my father’s cousin, Leonard Sweetman. He lived a few blocks from your great uncle John Stam. I told him the story of how we had met on the internet as a result of your story about your grandfather’s house. Leonard told me that he often came to the Sunday School class that Leonard attended as a child.

  12. says

    I checked out offline for a couple of days in Paris for my birthday and it was so great to get back online and see all these thoughtful comments!

    @Tony: Congratulations on your decision and upcoming adventure! There are so many impressions and conversations that happen every day that may take on a life of their own. Important thing is to be open to them.

    @Nick: We’ve been rather fortunate on our journey so hope that karma continues to spread itself out…

    @cosmoHallitan: Funny you mention running into random people at airports…that’s also happened to us! In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania of all places.

    @Jo: Glad you enjoyed it.

    @Sarah: Now that’s another great small world experience! I wonder where you’ll run into her next :)

    @Laura: Technology definitely helps make the world smaller and smaller, in a good way. But I also love the serendipitous experiences that are complete chance.

    @Rita: Wow, thank you.

    @Adam: I’m really glad that I shared this as well. Just goes to show that sometimes I should listen to my gut (which said to share it) than my inner critic.

    @Sutapa: Thanks, glad you enjoyed this!

    @J.D.: Couldn’t agree with this sentence more: “We go through this life and never fully understand the impact we create in some peoples world.” One never knows when an opportunity will happen to have a meaningful exchange, so best to be yourself and open all the time. Hope we have a chance to see you in Berlin soon!

    @Amanda: Me too!

    @Tarique: Thank you for such a thoughtful comment and message. Meaningful transactions an happen anywhere, any place.

    @Betsy: You and Warren were some of the people we shared this story with originally and encouraged us to publish it. Thanks for the support! And yes, we often don’t know the impact we might have on other people, but that’s motivation. And yes, this is also a reminder to send notes to all those people who have had an impact on me that I’ve never let them know.

    @Vina: And thank you for writing, not only to let me know about the small world story, but to write the story in such a lovely and poetic way. Travel is an amazing bond for people as it shows shared interests and values. I hope our paths may cross again…perhaps in Northern CA??

    @Yvonne: Ha! Love how you managed to fit a Ryan Gosling connection there!

    @Margaret: Thank you!

    @Donna: You have more years of experience in this than I do…and I couldn’t agree more. Really like your comment: “I love when the universe balances,,if we just let go.”

    @Don: Sometimes you just need to lose such a struggle. With your life and all that you have done, I imagine you have many similar experiences.

    @Pete: Wow, that’s a great story. I’ll pass that on to my grandfather when I see him shortly – he’ll enjoy it as well. Also love the story of how you find our website from researching my great aunt and uncle.

    @Eugene & Pamela: Thanks! Yes, life is always full of surprises.

  13. says

    Such a grammatically perfect and well written email by Miss Vina Lustado makes me question why such captialization errors were made. This email seems contrived and very well shaped to your full circle theme and echoes the stylistic traits in your other posts.

  14. says

    @Marius: I would say that Vina’s choice of not using any capitalization in her email is a writing style choice as opposed to errors. We copied and pasted Vina’s email exactly as it was so as to preserve her style of writing. I do agree with you that she is a good writer and can tell a great story.

    I’m sorry you think this is contrived, but it’s completely genuine. Vina commented above herself and I’ve had several emails back and forth with her and hope to perhaps meet her again next month.

  15. says

    Normally, the mantra is “leave the campground cleaner than you found it.” But that crystal necklace–left accidentally or intentionally in your Honda–was such a gift. It was a symbol of how Audrew touched Vina, and a neck-tingling detail for the rest of us. Thanks for sharing the story.

  16. says

    What a great story, and such a nice lesson that even the little exchanges we have with people on a daily basis are opportunities to let our grace and kindness shine. We all touch each other every day.

  17. says

    Reading this email reminds me of an encounter I made with a stranger during my trip to China three months ago, and it has something to do with you! So, I was traveling with my best friend who speaks Manadarin and Spanish. When we were in Guilin in Southern China, we met a nice person from Uruguay. It turned out all of us were heading to the same destination, a small town two-hour bus ride away from Guilin. Long story short my friend and I got really close with this man. When we told him that we have travel blogs then he said to us about his experience of being a host to other travel bloggers who run a website called, guess what, Uncornered Market! He’s Fabricio, if you still remember him. So, we are indeed more connected than we think.

  18. says

    @Cara: I have to admit that I had forgotten about that necklace until Vina mentioned it. Then it brought me back to that time and place. Sometimes things are left or “misplaced” for a reason :)

    @Tom: Vina’s letter was beautiful, wasn’t it? She has a talent with words and I’m so glad she decided to reach out.

    @Jenna: Couldn’t agree more! We have so many opportunities each day to have personal exchanges with a positive force. Even when doing something mundane like errands or shopping, there are still opportunities to smile or greet someone that makes a small difference.

    @Bama: Wow, can’t believe you ran into Fabricio in Guilin, China!! How great is that. Fabricio and his wife were our first couchsurfing hosts and they were some of the nicest people in the planet. Thanks so much for sharing this story. Love it.

  19. says

    What a wonderful story! It really shows how small the world is getting. I’m sure many of us have had similar things happen to us, but only very few of us will ever find out.

  20. says

    @Alex: With more and more of us traveling around combined with social media and technology, the world is becoming smaller. And, hopefully with all this we learn about these experiences more and more.

  21. says

    This is a great story! You have to ask yourself what it means, when something like that happens. I don’t believe in fate, per se, but I do believe in making the most of opportunities that present themselves, and indeed being open to seeing the opportunity in the first place..

  22. says

    @Drew: I like that, “believe in making the most of opportunities that present themselves.” And I think you’re right, these opportunities occur more frequently the more open we are.

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  1. [...] experience these new places, cultures, and people together and how they feel about going home. We Are More Connected than We Think: This sweet post tells a true story of coincidence and shows the relevance of making a positive [...]

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