August 18th, 2011 was a jam-packed day

Sometimes the mishaps truly happen for a reason. Here’s my story:

I injured my leg pretty badly playing softball earlier in the week and it was clear that my softball season was over. I’m not a stranger to athletic injuries, but the pain was so terrible I realized I needed to take the time out and get an MRI.

My days are generally packed; always moving from one thing to the next – trying to fit it all in and get as much done as possible. So naturally every hour is accounted for. If something doesn’t go according to schedule – the plan gets messed up. Little did I know that life in its unexpected curious ways would teach me on that very day that sometimes it is the moments we don’t plan for that give life meaning and purpose.

On that particular day, my schedule was a little more hectic than usual. My MRI was scheduled for 7:45 pm and like always you have to arrive 45 min early to fill out paperwork. I figured since MRI’s are on time I would be in there for an hour tops, giving me just enough time to make it to a class I teach at 9:00pm. I was running a few minutes late and arrived at the hospital at around 7:15pm. When I got to the office there was one woman at the desk signing people in and a couple was seated opposite her. It was quite evident that they must have been there for some time.

I’ve never been one to like waiting in a doctors office (like most of us) – probably why I don’t frequently venture out to the doctors office even when I may not be feeling well. I took a seat and patiently waited for the couple to finish; it gave me some time to catch up on some work I had to do. Finally I got to the desk. the woman filed my papers within minutes and I was on my way to change into my robe and get the MRI.

7:45pm on the dot – right on schedule – just how I like it. I entered into the room and the technician handed me earplugs. For all of you who have had MRI’s before – you most certainly need them. After putting in the earplugs, I headed for the table and the technician signaled to me to put my head by the opening of the machine. I was a bit confused. I was under the impression that I was supposed to be getting an MRI of my upper thigh and was not exactly enthusiastic of heading into a closed MRI head first. Through the earplugs I heard him say, “Spine”. I took the ear plugs out and asked him to repeat himself. He explained that I was getting an MRI of my spine. My spine? I said. “I’m not getting an MRI of my spine. I’m getting an MRI of my leg.” There seemed to be some kind of problem. He showed me the prescription and oddly enough he was right – it said spine. I couldn’t understand what had happened.

I asked him if I could have a few moments to call the doctor or my mother to ask for advice on what to do. He explained that if I do that he will have to take the next patient. I was torn, but at the last moment I told him to take the next patient; I needed to find out what was going on. When the doors opened, I saw the couple from earlier. The woman was ready in her robe and her husband was standing beside her. The technician escorted her into the room and I headed to the waiting room to make the call. Apparently my mother couldn’t get in touch with the doctor and after discussing the possible mix up my mother told me to leave and I’ll have to get it strightend out.

Moments later, the technician entered the room to tell me it would be at least an hour possibly more. Normally, I would just take that as a sign and leave (after all I wasn’t sure I was getting the MRI for the correct part of my body). I had what seemed to be the wrong prescription; if I stay I’m going to be late for my class – throwing “the plan” off schedule – it seemed like a simple decision. But for some reason I felt as though I was supposed to be there. I told the technician I would wait and I explained to my mother that although it appears as though it may be a mistake, maybe I was supposed to be there – maybe there was some hidden reason that I didn’t know yet. Perhaps I was meant to get an MRI of my spine. Just hearing me say that worried my mother and she told me to stay. I immediately did something I hate doing – I informed the girls from my class that things are taking a bit longer than expected at the hospital and it looks like I wont be out until 10pm, but I offered to do the class at that point. They agreed and I felt relieved.

For the first 40 min I just sat relaxing in the waiting room – the words relaxing and waiting room are usually never apart of the same sentence, but for some reason  having the patience I needed on that day just seemed simple. It was only after 40 min of waiting when I learned the real reason I was there.

The husband of the woman who was currently doing an MRI walked in with a look of sadness, panic, and exhaustion in his eyes. Working as part of an organization that constantly promotes awareness comes with many benefits; it allows you to see people differently – to really see them. It was evident something was on his mind, and that whatever it was brought him great pain. I greeted him and he apologized for having taken my place in line for the MRI.

I turned to him and said, “No need to apologize I believe everything happens for a reason.” He stopped, sat down next to me and asked me if I really believed that with all my heart. I told him that I did. “Sometimes we see the reason shortly after and sometimes we never see it – but I know in my heart that everything, the good and seemingly bad, happens for a reason.” My response seemed to strike something within him.

“It’s been a long day huh?” I asked him, sensing his response.

“Its been a long two weeks,” he sighed.

At that moment I understood that for him and his wife making plans had become something they stopped doing over the past two weeks.

I know what darkness is like – we all do. It’s scary, it’s petrifying, it’s lonely. But what I’ve learned is that darkness is simply the absence of light. Even a small thimbleful of light can cut through the thickest darkness and sometimes that light comes from unexpected places.

My supposed class that was scheduled for 8:45 did indeed take place, but the location simply changed. That night the topic of my lesson was the power of positive thinking. Who knew just how relevant that would be on that particular night. My organization, Life Vest Inside, my every moment is consumed by the idea of positive thinking and the idea that kindness keeps the world afloat. I explained to Gary what Life Vest Inside is all about – the fact that our life vest and ability to stay afloat when life’s curve balls throw us for a loop is through the kindness others bestow upon us and kindness we in turn bestow upon others.

Gary and I began conversing and it became clear to me that for that fleeting moment I would have the opportunity to be his thimbleful of light. But in fact, looking back I see that it was the exact opposite. Gary was my light, in a way you can say he was my life vest and for that I am forever indebted. Imagine, if I didn’t open my eyes to my surroundings. How often do we walk by people, bump into them and don’t even give them a second glance. We’re all connected, our paths cross for a purpose. If we become aware of our surroundings we can truly unleash a power within us that we never knew we had.

A few weeks later I received an email that not only made my day, but also reaffirmed all my beliefs. I received an email from Gary.

Hi Orly,

I wanted to thank you for the positive and inspirational talk we had last week. Meeting you and hearing what you had to say really meant a lot to me. In the last three weeks my wife has been diagnosed with stage 4-breast cancer. WOW. When I met you I was very upset, worrying about everything that was happening. In the past week I have been thinking about everything you said to me and it all makes a lot of sense. I have been trying to think positive and have been starting to feel differently about this situation my wife and I have been thrown into. Please feel free to contact me anytime; I can really use some of your inspiration and support. Or if not that, than just to say hi. 

Until this very day my thoughts and good wishes are with Gary and his wife and I feel fortunate and grateful for our paths crossing.