Sometimes, often times, the universe comes knocking. Placing people, circumstances and occasions in your path that cannot be ignored. Too coincidental. Must be kismet.
I had one of these episodes recently. Actually, I believe I have them every day. You just have to learn to watch for them. Become intimate with the ways of the universe. Or whatever your name for the “Universe” is.
Sound like mumbo jumbo?
It was on one particular evening last month in Toronto that fate landed with a deafening bang in front of me. Striking the ground so hard that the crash still echoes in my ears. Reminding me to listen. Heed hard. Obey. The universe is the one being who I’ll allow to tell me what to do.
The tale begins at a hotel bar downtown (surprise). The kind where recognizable faces blend in with those like mine. I was alone. Enjoying one of my few quiet nights in Toronto with an Old Fashioned for company. They do make a desirable companion.
With my nose in my notebook and one hand twirling my pen in thought, I felt compelled for some reason to look up. My eyes landed on a face I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. As he entered the room and looked around, I waved at him with excitement. He looked behind him to see if there was someone else being targeted and I motioned him over.
Recognition fluttered across his face as he neared and I pulled him in for a hug. Perhaps I was being overzealous, but having been in the city for a week attending parties on my own, I was excited to finally see a familiar face.
To my great delight, Alex joined me at the bar, and we spent the next hour filling in the blanks on the better part of a decade. He was attending TIFF as a filmmaker and his story ideas and determination to succeed captured my fancy. The room faded away and we remained.
When he excused himself to the restroom, I awoke from the storytelling and became fascinated by the men flanking my other side.
They had just arrived and were debating the scotch menu – deciding whether to imbibe on the amber. I inserted my two cents, “Scotch is always a good idea.” Conversation double doors were now wide open. And the air started to flow.
I was not surprised when I learned they were filmmakers. Wasn’t everybody in Toronto over those two weeks in September knee deep in film? The one closest to me had a beard that tickled his chest and a ponytail that trailed down his back. My curiosity was heightened, and when Alex returned, the four of us fell into a dialogue.
Another hour shaved away and while I was enjoying myself, responsibility and tired eyes were commanding me to get to bed. My decision-making skills were foggy and I sat there in silent debate with myself. Stay and further get to know my new and old friends, or bid the night adieu.
At that exact moment Colin Farrell walked past. The one man I had hoped to encounter at the festival. In the flesh. My desire to see him was not merely because of his brooding handsomeness, but because for years the debauchery a friend and I found ourselves in was based on the one mantra, “What would Colin Farrell do?” (Silly, I know, but very effective)
Him turning up at that moment reminded me to live in the now. Go with it. Maybe even get into trouble. So I stayed. Ordered another cocktail. My bed would always be waiting. This was life. Real life. Dream land, although lovely, just wasn’t the same.
The conversation that transpired was the kind one remembers forever. The kind of conversation that acts as a marker in the timeline of life. It was a defining moment.
I shared my story ideas for a screenplay that I had been toying with. A goal one always talks about yet never starts. Procrastination had seized control of me for months. Speaking with these men and hearing their encouragement and enthusiasm for my ideas and writing got my embers glowing.
That night I made a pinky swear that I would finish my screenplay. That I would get my story on paper. Bring life to my characters. Staying on that bar stool longer was the best decision I could have made that night. It resuscitated my dreams and made me see others living out theirs.
And my bed was still there when I finally returned home.
My lessons from a bar stool:
1. Ten years may feel like forever but it’s never too long to reconnect with someone.
2. Watch out for the signs the universe sends you. They may come as smoke signals, a carrier pigeon or morse code. Become well-versed in spotting them. Everything happens for a reason.
3. Pinky swears often hold more power in your psyche than a legal document.
4. Start whatever it is you are saving for another day. Now.
5. Yes, Colin Farrell is just as handsome in the flesh.