“It’s a small world”? Maybe a little too small sometimes…

“It’s a small world”? Maybe a little too small sometimes…

There was a recent story that made the internet rounds about a married couple who discovered that they had been visiting Disneyland as children, at the same time – 15 years before they met each other.  In an old family photo, the woman (as a young girl) can been seen posing for a picture with one of the Disney characters.  In the background, her future father-in-law can be seen pushing her future husband along in a stroller.  The couple didn’t discover the mind-blowing coincidence until they were going through old family photos, in preparation for their wedding.

Voutsinas family photo

It was a touching story, and it got me to thinking.  My wife and I also shared a similar, if unphotographed, almost rendezvous.  When going through concert tickets while we were dating we found that, when we were both in high school, we sat in the same section for a Poison concert.  What if we had met each other then?  Did we perhaps see each other?  If so, was she impressed with the height I was able to get out of my hair with a bottle of Aquanet?

All of these are important questions.  After a few minutes of reliving my youth, I was tempted to write a post extolling the virtues taking the time to appreciate all of those people in the background of the pictures of your life.  After all, if this story teaches us nothing, it’s that you never know who the strangers around you really are – or what role they might play in your life in the future.  Shouldn’t we treat everyone like they will have a lasting impact on us in the future?  The short answer – no.

It’s great to live in a world of rainbows and lollipops, where that girl sitting behind you at Waffle House, in the picture you and your friends took before going to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the 112th time, turns out to be your future wife.  But it could also be that that girl is the one who goes on to be your future ex-wife, after cheating on you with the waiter down at Denny’s who used to always ask her if she wanted “extra sausage with her Grand Slam”.  (I guess in hindsight, you should have seen that coming).

That boy playing Pac-Man in the background of your 8th birthday party at Showbiz Pizza?  He might turn out to be your best friend in college, and godfather of your children.  Or – he might turn out to be the father of the boy who breaks your daughter’s heart when he, on a dare from his friends, not only takes her to the prom wearing a powder blue, polyester tux – but also breaks out a white floppy hat and beard for the pictures and insists on yelling “Papa Smurf is in ‘Da House” all night on the dance floor.

What about that guy giving the peace sign in the background while you and your friends pose for a picture in front of the Statue of Liberty?  It’s possible that he goes on to stop a robbery at the bank where you are standing in line to open a savings account for your twin boys.  Or – as a loan office in that same bank, he could be the one who denies your small business loan application, thereby crushing your dream of finally launching “Llamasaretherealpartyanimals.com” to a worldwide audience.

The point is – you don’t really know who’s on the bus with you, or who’s sitting two rows over from you at the concert.  You don’t really know who’s in the background of your life.  On the other hand – you don’t really know who’s in the background of your life.  You can spend so much time trying to find connections and plan for what might happen in the future, that you forget about what’s going on right now.  Trying to find the next great twist of fate in everything you do – well, it’s just exhausting.  Don’t be afraid to ignore the moron at Sears trying to decide if he needs the XXL or the XXXL thong underwear.  Sure, he might be your future boss – or he might just be a random fat guy with no sense of irony.  Life’s too short to worry about it right now.  Wait until you run in to him again and find out then.

© 2010, The Word Zombie. All rights reserved.

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