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Sunday, September 25, 2011

There Are No Mistakes

Recently Chris, who was returning from a weekend of gigging as a jazz musician, was on a flight from St. Louis to Hartford. When gigging in the Midwest, he usually travels via Continental, with the typical lay-over being in Chicago, but this time the tickets were on Delta, and the lay-over was in Detroit. I relay this difference because it is an important element in the following story. There are no mistakes. There are no coincidences.

As Chris boarded the 7:14 am flight and settled into his seat, he noticed a couple, husband and wife, coming down the aisle with their heavy carry-on luggage. Chris said he KNEW that they were going to occupy the other two seats right next to him. Interestingly, the flight wasn't full and he had earlier contemplated picking a different seat, but something made him stay put where he was. As the couple began to lift their luggage into the overhead storage compartment, Chris rose to help them. When the couple took their seats, with the wife window-side, her husband in the middle, and Chris on the end, the man said that he KNEW Chris and he would get along 'famously' because Chris had offered to help with the bags.

Soon after sitting down, the man said to Chris that he felt Chris was an artist. Then, he showed Chris his own hands and began showing him how to do a deep massage regimen for each of his finger joints. With the palm up, he explained to exert firm but not excessive pressure on each finger joint, holding the pressure for 7 seconds...counting one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, etc. Then he showed Chris trigger points in the palm to release tension and increase flexibility. The man said to do this each day and you'll never have problems with flexibility in your hands. Good advice for Chris, given he's a pianist...although this was not told to the man prior to him showing Chris the hand-health techniques.

There are no mistakes.

Only then did this trio introduce themselves to each other. The man's name is Om. His wife's name was beautiful, but Chris didn't get a spelling of the name and so I cannot relay it here.

According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: Om is a mantra consisting of the sound \ˈōm\ and used in contemplation of ultimate reality. It is Sanskrit and its first known use was in 1788. The Mimi-hu online site says: Om (also written Aum) is the oldest and most sacred sound found in yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism. Not only does Om represent the entire universe, known as Brahman, it is also said to be the source of all creation.

As Chris was telling me his story about Om and Om's wife, he paused and mentioned that across the aisle from them there was another woman with a large, hardcover book on spirituality. Chris had Dan Millman's book, "Way of the Peaceful Warrior," with him on the plane and actually wrote in pencil on the inside cover some of the tips and thoughts Om had talked about. Chris also placed Om's address label next to mine on the inside cover...I often put such a label into my books so that if they get lost, they'll be returned to me...KNOWING that we'd be visiting Om and his wife in the not too distant future.

There are no mistakes.

As Om and Chris chatted, Om's wife was rather quiet, but very pleasant, and nodded off to sleep now and again. Chris relayed that the famous sax player, John Coltrane, had named an entire album, "Om." This album is described on Wikipedia: In October, 1965, Coltrane recorded Om, referring to the sacred syllable in Hindu religion, which symbolizes the infinite or the entire Universe. Coltrane described Om as the "first syllable, the primal word, the word of power". The 29-minute recording contains chants from the Bhagavad-Gita, a Hindu epic. The 1965 recording, issued posthumously, has Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders chanting from a Buddhist text, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and reciting a passage describing the primal verbalization "om" as a cosmic/spiritual common denominator in all things. Chris also told Om that John Coltrane named his son, Ravi, after Ravi Shankar, the legendary Indian sitar player, however, John died before he had the chance to play music with his musician son. And on that note, please know that Om and his wife were originally from India and are now living in the States.

Chris learned that the couple were continuing on to Toronto, in order to visit with their son. Interesting that Chris and I, and our sons, also had lived in Toronto for a time ('95-'98).

Throughout the flight, Om and Chris engaged in pleasant conversation. Om also showed Chris how to use his two palms, held horizontally...the left hand on the back of the neck and the right hand on the top of the forehead, held for 7 seconds (count 1001, 1002, 1003, etc.) order to relieve headaches. Om asked if Chris' hands were heating up. They were. Chris said that Om smiled knowingly.

Chris explained to Om that besides being a jazz pianist/performer, he also taught music at two schools. Om asked Chris to guess what he was? Chris told Om that he might have held any highly respected position...a doctor, a lawyer, etc. Om said he is a retired librarian, having retired 11 years ago from the Wethersfield Library in Connecticut. He talked about his retirement party, pleased that someone had said that there were more folks at his party than any they had previously seen at other such retirement parties. Om was understandably moved and proud about this fact.

Eventually Om brought out food from a bag to eat. He had brought homemade, spicy chapati, which he shared with Chris. Om said his wife did all the cooking. Chris told her that that was an art in and of itself. Chris declared the chapati...Indian unleavened flatbread...DELICIOUS! Om relayed that they always took home-prepared food with them when traveling. Chris asked the couple about their diets. Om said it was simple, consisting of nuts, yogurt, fruit (fresh and dried), dal (preparation of dried pulses: lentils, peas, or beans), very little rice, naan (leavened flatbread), fish or lean chicken (only once every two weeks or so), and vegetables in light sauces. Chris noted how svelte both Om and his wife were.

Om talked about what he did for a living when he first arrived in the States. A placement officer in NYC hired him to be an English teacher. Om asked the officer if he found it ironic that he, just coming from India, was to be an English teacher in NYC. The officer stated that Om had more command of the English language than many others he had seen.

Om asked Chris about our children. When Chris said his oldest son is 31 years old , Om appeared wide-eyed and asked him how it was possible, given how young Chris looks. They had a great laugh over that!

In between talking, Om said that he'd best allow Chris to rest, saying he often talks too much. I KNOW that Chris treasured all that Om shared and most definitely didn't want Om to stop.

One last thing that Chris remembered to tell me had to do with a book that Om recommended. It is "Body Reflexology: Healing At Your Fingertips," by Mildred Carter. Never one to take a book recommendation lightly, I looked it up on Amazon and placed an order for a used copy. Funny, but I had been recently nudged about reflexology and how it might be important to learn in addition to what I'm learning at school. Hmmm...

When all were ready to depart the plane, Chris helped Om and his wife get their bags down from the overhead compartment. They walked together to their respective connecting gates. Chris' gate came first. Before they parted company, Om patiently repeated what he had previously shown Chris about maintaining flexibility in his finger joints and hands, as well as the technique to ease a headache.

What an amazing couple. We're going to contact them soon and set up a visit. I can't wait!

At one point in their conversation on the plane, Om exclaimed that there are no mistakes in life. Indeed, there are no coincidences.


  1. What a beautiful story, Jenny! What wonderful blessings 'coincidences' can be.

  2. Thank you, Nancy! I'm happy you enjoyed the story!!