With the advent of the Internet and Facebook, I’ve had lots of people from my past find me and reach out to connect. Some from as far back as elementary school, high school, and college. Some of these people were my best friends at the time. It was exciting to hear from them again, and in most cases we had a lengthy phone talk or lunch date. Part of me thought we might rekindle our friendship.
But in all cases, after our initial meeting, we didn’t have much more to talk about. Most of our conversation was reminiscing. After that, the interaction ran out of gas. We hugged, wished each other well, said, “Let’s keep in touch,” and we went our separate ways, never or rarely to connect again.
Part of me felt sad that such friendships had no current life. Then I saw a quote by Miguel de Cervantes, author of the beloved classic novel Don Quixote: Do not look for this year’s birds in last year’s nest. What a fabulous, penetrating lesson! What is of the past belongs to the past. What is of the present belongs to the present. Sometimes the two overlap; often they do not.
This brought me to discover a principle I call Golden Intersections. When we connect with someone, whether for a moment, a decade, or a lifetime, there is a purpose to that meeting. A Course in Miracles tells us that there is no such thing as a random encounter; every person we meet is sent to us by Spirit for a purpose. Our job is to discover and extract the gift in that meeting and use it. No connection is outside our destiny of good.
All relationships exist for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Reason relationships might occur via a crossing of paths for a meaningful moment. A conversation in an elevator, a hearty laugh with a waitress, or one date with a person you do not see again, are never an accident; they all have a purpose. Season relationships go on for months or years: a romantic relationship, a strong friendship, or a close connection with a co-worker belong to you for a length of time. Then, like all seasons, the interlude comes to an end and gives way to something new. Lifetime relationships are usually with family members or a dear friend. They run deep and run the gamut of activities and emotions.
No matter how long your relationship lasts, there is a gift in it. Sometime that gift comes through love, fun, and joy. Sometimes it comes through hardship and challenge. Do not write off difficult interactions as a mistake or a waste of time. In some cases the gifts they bestow are more transformational than easy relationships. A Course in Miracles tells us that it takes great spiritual maturity to recognize that all events, encounters, and relationships are helpful.
I used to romanticize the past by wondering if I had made a mistake by not getting together with some past girlfriends when I had the chance to. I second-guessed myself for leaving or not cultivating relationships that could have turned out to be soulmate connections. Then something truly uncanny happened: In every case, some unexpected event showed up to demonstrate to me that there was a good reason those relationships did not endure. For example, my first love was my high school girlfriend Laurie in New Jersey. I was constantly high on love for months until we had a stormy breakup when I went off to college, and I never saw Laurie again. Often I wondered if we might have continued our love affair and come together for life if I had handled the situation better.
Thirty-five years later a friend of mine in Maui invited me to an intimate dinner party at his home in a remote tiny mountain town. “I want you to meet my friend Eddie,” he told me. I was shocked to discover that this Eddie was Laurie’s brother! When our conversation came around to Laurie, I admitted I felt bad about our breakup. “No need,” Eddie told me. “If you saw the life Laurie has chosen, you would not miss her. Her lifestyle and the choices she has made are worlds away from what you are doing.” Then he told me about Laurie’s volatility and scarred relationships. Still I gave him my email to pass along to his sister so I could at least say hello after all these years. Laurie never connected. Now I realize that ending the relationship, even for what seemed foolish or immature reasons, was the way it had to be. It had a delightful purpose when it existed, but when that purpose had been served, there was no reason for it to continue.
As we step into spring, the season of renewal, we have an opportunity to let the past go and allow new life to fill us. If you and I can just have faith that what belongs to us will stay with us, and if something served us in the past it does not necessarily belong to us in the present, we would forever shine in the now. Last year’s birds built their nests, and both the parents and the chicks have flown on to a new life. When we stay as light as birds in the glorious now, we too fly on to our highest destiny.
About the Author: Alan Cohen is the author the bestselling A Course in Miracles Made Easy: Mastering the Journey from Fear to Love. Join Alan in Hawaii this June 19-23 for a life-transforming retreat, Power, Passion, and Purpose: a Training to Live Your Vision. For more information about this program, Alan’s books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com