A very close friend insisted that I meet a woman she'd just met. She just had a feeling we'd get along. After many fits and starts--business trips, cancelled opportunites and challenges getting into the city at the same time--we finally managed to be in the same place at the same time. I'm all for serendipitous encounters, but I've made far less time for these encounters than I used to.
I recall the salad days of the Dot Com bomb, when we had plenty of time and nothing to lose from meeting people who may or may not be helpful to us. I met people on searches, some similar to my own, and could listen to them talk about their endeavors for the sake of listening. Years later, with a small business to help run, time was at a premium. I've learned a new skill lately of folding in these occasional encounters with official business meetings.
This friend of my friend's was traveling far out of her way to meet me. She'd moved to the Bay Area not long ago and had some challenges navigating suitable places to park in the city. I could have gone to her, I thought, feeling a tad guilty.
Over coffee (or an iced latte; it was a hot day) we talked about what we were up to. Clearly our mutual friend thought to put us together for a reason. I knew that my coffee date was working on her third book. I guessed that my friend hoped I would be a potential reviewer of it when it was ready, or could help her with a blog promotion strategy. As she spoke, I realized she hardly needed my help. She'd practiced medicine as an OB/Gyn for years, then decided to follow her passion for art. After creating a national following (she shows in galleries across the country), she thought to expand on her passion for writing. She is now working on her third book, which had received competing bids from multiple publishing houses. She didn't need my help with online promotion; her growing online community was thriving. She had a staff to help her maintain it. Three years ago she had a daughter, and her husband, a Harvard MBA, had stopped working to explore his own possibilities and now spent his days at their home near the ocean.
I thought to myself, she has everything she wants. What can I possibly do for her? Perhaps, it became increasingly apparent to me, it was SHE who would help me.