When Our Paths Cross

I remember reading many years ago that whenever our life path crosses someone else’s, whether it be for a few minutes or an extended period of time, we have something to learn from the person and something to give them; that our meeting is no accident.  I don’t know if that is true, but I find it to be a useful concept regardless.

By nature I am a very strong introvert so it is easy for me to stay within myself and not interact with other people. I know when I do that, however, I am potentially missing out on some important opportunities.

I imagine from time to time, all of us meet people in situations where our meeting seems very synchronistic, times when we sense that something bigger than random chance is operating. During my last two trips to India, I had four experiences like that.

1) In January 2013, I was on a domestic flight between Trivandrum and Mumbai, sitting next to an Indian man and his daughter. After a while, I noticed that their accent sounded very American. I finally asked where they were from and the father said “Seattle”. That certainly surprised me since I am from Seattle. When I arrived in Mumbai, I had a problem of some kind. I don’t remember what it was at this point, but I asked them for help and they willingly gave it

2) A few months ago, I wrote a post about a 73-year-old woman I met at Amma’s ashram in India. It seemed like I saw her at every turn. She, like me, was from the United States. She used to be an Emergency Room nurse; I am also a nurse.   She had been feeling drawn to study Sanskrit so she planned to go to Pondicherry, India to attend a Sanskrit intensive when she left the ashram towards the end of January. I had been studying Sanskrit for two years.

At that point in my life, I had been feeling discouraged because of my health.  I also felt old even though I was only 65. She was 73 at the time I met her.  Ten years back, after having been bedridden for many years, she had found a cure for her ailment. Weeks later she was taking an 82 mile hike carrying a heavy backpack. Since then she has lived 7 years in Costa Rica and 3 years in a village in the Himalayas. Having her cross my path was both inspiring and uplifting.

3)  One day on that same trip, I decided spontaneously to get in line to give prasad to Amma. (Amma’s form of blessing is to give each person that comes to her a hug and a piece of candy. In India, they also receive a packet of sacred ash. Those gifts are called prasad. Those of us who are living or visiting her ashram have the opportunity to hand Amma those items.)

The line of prasad givers forms outside the temple and it can be really long. It may take an hour and a half to make ones way through the line. As I was waiting in line that day, I was working on my Sanskrit homework. The Caucasian woman sitting next to me asked if that was Sanskrit I was writing and I said yes. She said she and her boyfriend were interested in learning Sanskrit so the three of us talked about it for a while. They were from New York City.  I was able to give her information about how to find a teacher there, and so did the person sitting on the other side of me!

At some point, I must have said that I was from Seattle. She said she was born in Seattle, in 1980 at Swedish Hospital.  I was the Maternal Newborn Clinical Nurse Specialist at Swedish Hospital in 1980!  It seemed really important to her that I might have held her soon after she was born.

4)  Coming home from that same India trip, I was sitting in an aisle seat in the middle section of the airplane.  Seated next to me was an Indian man.  Next to him was his child, and his wife sat in the other aisle seat.  I started working on my Sanskrit homework and was having trouble with part of the assignment.  I was frustrated because I didn’t have the resources on the plane I needed to finish it.

Shortly thereafter, the three people next to me switched seats, so that the wife could sit next to me.  She told me she wanted to see what I was doing.  She said me she had learned Sanskrit many years ago.  She noticed the areas where I was having trouble and taught me what I needed to know to complete the homework!

What is the chance of me 1) sitting next to a man and child from Seattle on a domestic flight….. in India, 2) meeting a 73 year old woman that had so many commonalities with me, at a time when I needed to be inspired in the ways she could offer…….. in India,  3) sitting next to a Caucasian woman….in India…. who was born in Seattle, at the hospital and department where I worked at the time; and as if that wasn’t enough in common, she also was wanting to study Sanskrit and 4) sitting next to an Indian woman who had studied Sanskrit many years ago and could help me with my Sanskrit homework on my way home from India. To my mind, none of these meetings were random.  All were synchronicities.

Having experiences like these really strengthens my belief that our paths cross for a reason. It made me aware of how much I potentially miss out on when I stay in my introverted shell. Even writing this post is a good reminder to me that I need to live in awareness and realize that every person I meet could become an important part of my life.


7/22/14 Addendum:  I just returned from a trip in the Grand Tetons.  I had a similar experience there.  I had said “Hi” to people during the 3 days we were there, but never really had a conversation with anyone until the last day. At that point, I greeted a woman who was moving into her cabin.  She asked me a question and then we started conversing. We talked for quite awhile. Towards the end of the conversation, I asked where she lived. Her answer was “Seattle.”  She lives about 5 miles from me!  How could that be random?



Written for Traces of the Soul Prompt #10: Traveling Log


37 thoughts on “When Our Paths Cross

  1. I totally agree.. I believe that we all meet people for a reason. Some people are there for a short time in our lives and some people tend to be in our lives for years, but either way, there is always a purpose.


    1. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

      It is an interesting process to discover the purpose. Sometimes we know right away, and sometimes we may never know……..


  2. I love this post, Karuna. I agree that however short or long an encounter with someone, it will enrich one’s life but these meetings by chance you describe…wow, gives me goose bumps! (smiles) Thank you for your offering to this prompt.


    1. You are welcome. It is a post I’ve wanted to write for some time. I was happy it came to my mind when I read your prompt the other day!

      I’m also aware that three of my four stories involved Sanskrit. So to me they were also a way of affirming the importance of that endeavor. We did a play in Sanskrit at Amma’s retreat in Seattle this year. She was REALLY happy about that!


      1. BTW….. I sent you an email this morning. I thought you might see your comments before you saw your email so decided to mention it here! 🙂


  3. I appreciate the reminder to be willing to reach out and connect with people. As I do this more frequently it is feeling more familiar and natural, as in comfortable to do.


  4. Your story reminds me of the six degrees of separation idea that we are all connected in the first place. It must have been so affirming to have the people you met traveling to India who are part of your bigger journey..


    1. Yes it was definitely affirming…. and exciting!

      So many of us spend a lot of time and energy thinking we are alone and nobody understands us when the reality is that we have so many things in common with our fellow humans.

      I am in the process of writing a post about all the things another blogger and I have discovered we have in common. It will probably go up today!


      1. BTW I noticed that the link you put to my blog is the main one….. which is great! But the article you are referring to is quite far back so your readers might not find it easily. You might want consider using https://livinglearningandlettinggo.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/when-our-paths-cross/ instead.

        It is of course fine with me either way.

        I am very excited about your followup post. If any new readers are reading the comments to my post you can find Carl’s followup at: http://carlsrantings.com/2014/07/21/coincidences-do-happen-right/.


      2. Karuna

        I make a habit of including two links in my articles to posts that have inspired a post of my own. Right on top of my post. The very first line is the link directly to your post. Then when I mention the person or blog it is from I point it directly to the authors home site.


  5. Great post…fun to read. I don’t believe these experiences are random at all. I totally agree we meet people for a reason…the times we don’t see that is because we were put there to help them, not they us. Sometimes you won’t know that you inspired someone.


  6. Hey Karuna,

    An even-tide ferried my crimson sail boat across the miles to arrive upon your shore. And how grateful I am to embark upon a charming island seemingly well frequented by synchronicity and comfortingly appointed 🙂 Karuna, you have a truly delightful Blog. Thank you

    There is so much to be enjoyed within your crafted post, least of all the sense of energy that permeates your thoughts, it’s exciting, enticing, infectious, and fun to read, again, thank you. Your fascinating tale is remarkable, the account a demonstration of the threads that pull and unite us in the most unexpected of ways.

    One of the central themes prevalent in your adventures…Seattle…encourages me to reveal that I have a family member of a similar age to yourself currently residing there who I haven’t seen for many years. It is a small, small world indeed! One wonders at the press of our meeting and the choice of our forthcoming intentions. Certainly I may have loose ends to tie up, and perhaps it is nearly time for me to consider doing so. Thank you for crossing paths and planting compassionate seeds 🙂

    I was so pleased to have you visit my Blog and find a little warmth in Draconis. You are always welcome. Perhaps our paths will cross again soon 🙂

    Take care dear friend 🙂


    DN – 12/07/2015

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the shout out. One Rooster in any flock is enough, eight, OMG! Have a niece up your way who lives in Bonney Lake. Looked back to a few past blogs of yours, I did a bit of research and now know what Sandskrit is. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was such an inspiring piece. I especially loved this, “whenever our life path crosses someone else’s, whether it be for a few minutes or an extended period of time, we have something to learn from the person and something to give them; that our meeting is no accident. ” I belieive that as well. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. Thank you also, for stopping by the Cow Pasture and welcome to the fence jumpers. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Karuna!! First of all i would thank u for bringing me to conversation with you . I was before you commented on my posts (you also liked my posts), totally unaware that someone would read my blog and like it . I wanna also give credit to Community Pool for all this opportunity to find people like you. It made us cross on our paths!

    I think you are amazing with so much of thoughtfulness. It would also be amazing to have conversations with you.

    Anyways this is a great blog. I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

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