Wie sagt man ‘small world moment’ auf Deutsch?
Klein weld moment? It happened along a canal, a stone’s throw away from the famous Rialto Bridge. I was sitting with my mother and cousin, sipping Italian wine and having an exquisite appetizer of melon with ham, while taking in a divine evening in Venice. The sights, the sounds, the people, waiters annoyed we only wanted an appetizer, children crying in exhaustion after an intense day of parent led sight-seeing, and a city that takes you back hundreds of years. Two young women walked by our table and I caught their eyes. I did a double take, ‘wait, I recognize them’. Then, the ‘oh, wow!’ moment. I knew them from my college (a tiny ~2,000 student school in Minnesota)!
In my almost full year of living as a baseball player abroad, you get very used to not recognizing anyone, anywhere. Seeing my mother and cousins in Italy was a shock in and of itself because they had not been a part of my new abroad life yet. You kind of compartmentalize your life into different parts based on what country you’re living in. I have my American life, Spanish life, Australian life, and now, my German life. When people from one life enter another, it’s like in the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia, when the Witch causes a massive scene on the streets of London, or in Jurassic Park, when Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler see the Brachiosaurus for the first time on grazing in the grassland. Fantasy meets reality. Your internal universe has a little mini explosion.
After I realized where I recognized them from, a different life, that’s when the mini explosion happened. Your brain clicks off, unable to process the current situation, and you’re eagerly forced into the present moment. I jumped from my seat like a missile and gave them a delightfully warm hello. We instantly chatted like we were on campus again, unaware of the years that have passed. I was only acquaintances with them at school, attending the same parties and sharing a few mutual friends, so after two years without any contact, I was immensely grateful to remember their names and avoid a terribly awkward moment. Thank you subconscious mind. Goodness, it was perfect. A few minutes into our conversation there was an interruption.
A man said ‘excuse me’ as he passed and I turned and looked at him as I got out of his way. He said, ‘Lucas?!’ in an Australian accent. No way! He was one of my teammates on the Williamstown Wolves in Melbourne last season! As I was enjoying the first explosion, this one completely blew me away. He was with his wife on their honeymoon, appreciating one of the world’s most romantic cities. The four of us only talked for a couple of minutes because he was in a rush to make a dinner reservation, but those minutes felt like an eternity. Time slows down when you’re so deeply embedded in the moment. I continued to talk with the women from college for some time and we made plans to meet up for coffee the next day (which was a terrific time btw). I returned to the table with my mother and cousin and finished my glass of wine with an unwipeable smile on my face. What are the odds? Do the odds even matter? To see people from two different worlds in those precise moments along a Venetian canal. That is romance.
Moments like those feel like wrinkles in the fabric of the universe. Many of us live mostly bland lives. We may go to work at jobs that interest our minds, but not our hearts. Certain parts of our lives give us an escapist’s joy. We have hobbies we enjoy, friends we look forward to seeing, and occasional trips that excite us. Moment to moment though, we’re usually live a comfortably predictable existence. We fall into routines. We do things that make us feel good (i.e. comfortable), but that rarely make us burst with life. We feel separate from other people and the world around us. We lose touch with the inherent miracle of being alive. When I saw those two women from my college, an instant flash of energy burst into my body. Then, another flash, exponentially greater, when I saw my teammate from Melbourne. I felt connected with everything. That is the joy of being alive. Though I was thrown into the depths of the present moment by chance (or perhaps not if you believe in other powers coordinating events like this 🙂 ) in this case, we can deliberately experience life this way in any moment. Through true presence. When you get a taste from the cup of life, you’re left wanting a lot more. Make these moments the norm, instead of the exception. Make every moment of your life a ‘klein weld moment’. Be present. Suerte!