Do you know how sometimes the universe puts exactly the right person at exactly the right time in your path? I love those stories. I love watching New Yorkers give directions, they will tell tourists 5 times how to get somewhere, and watch them to make sure they are on the right path. And you never know how a person is going to affect you.
My first job out of college was with a graphics company. They mainly designed graphics for tv shows (you know those things that pop-up and say “Coming Up Next..”) but they also did other design things for cable companies. At some point they trusted me though to work on an Upfront presentation (Upfront season is a weird month in the spring when networks do big presentations to ad companies in order to sell all the ad time for the next year. It is weird and amazing) for a cable network. It was not the biggest project, but for the new kid on the block it was a big deal. I met clients! And those clients had changes they wanted that needed to be done right then, which meant I was stuck working late.
When I finally left I was just in a foul mood: last one there, long day, whiny, cranky, etc. I grumbled my way down the stairs, out the door and threw my hand up in the air to hail a cab to take my bad attitude home. I got in the cab, smiled at the driver and said hello (I always say hello to the drivers and ask how they are because I had a cabdriver once chastise me for not saying hello.)
The driver looks at me and asks “Are you a Libra or a Pisces?”
“I am a Libra. How did you know?” I volleyed back.
“Because of your smile.” He told me.
I had been looking forward to sitting quietly and examining all the injustices of having to work late alone. But….
“It is interesting that you asked about Pisces, because they are not linked with Libras astrologically, but I have always gotten along with them.” I replied.
“Well they are two most gullible signs in the Zodiac.” He answered.
This was the moment I looked at his name placard because I was sure I was about to be murdered. As I was looking for information on who was going to kill me, he leaned out of his window and yelled at the woman exiting the cab in front of us
“Are you a Capricorn?”
“No, I am a Cancer.” She yelled back.
Obviously not going to murder me, just really into signs. I sat back in the seat.
“What do you do?” he asked me.
“I want to be an artist...no I am an artist.” I replied.
“The difference between ‘I am’ statements vs ‘I want’ statements is very powerful.” he responded. We talked for awhile about intentions and how important they are.
He then told me this saying (this is what I remember):
Sow a thought, reap an action
Sow an action, reap a habit
Sow a habit, reap a destiny
(The full quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”)
We then talked about how Navajo weavers intentionally weave a mistake into their rugs because only the creator can make something perfect.
And 23 blocks and 3 avenues later I was home with a smile on my face and I still remember his name.
I think the library can also have that serendipity. You don’t know who you will run into, what you might find or how it will stick in your life for years.
Kaitlin is an Innovation Fellow focused on Materials and Services in the Gottesman Library.