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Thousands of sweat beads trickled down his neck, his forehead, and his arms. It wrapped around him, coating him with a shiny layer. Playfully, he laughed as he wrapped his arm around me and I squirmed away, glowering, then wiped the sticky dew onto his shirt. I sat back, keeping my eyes glued on him. Heat was radiating off of him now, and he seemed to be glowing under the moonlight. The midnight air swallowed us whole, although it was cooler than the dance hall, which we appreciated.
I sucked in the air, as if I could keep the moment locked up with sharp breaths. Above us, the stars twinkled against the clear sky, humid, but peaceful.
Suddenly, I realized how much of an effect this boy had on me, and I realized that he was meant to meet me. Perhaps he was destined to trip over the stereo system power cord, trip gracefully over his own feet, and land face first on top of me, knocking myself and three others over along the way. Maybe he was meant to apologize repeatedly, until the guilt in his stomach subsided, sparking a conversation that would change our lives.
Aidan and I spent hours watching the clouds fade into stars, tearing ourselves open and pouring out memories. He was a leader, none the less, but on the inside, he was a beautifully broken boy who needed to be put back together. Vivid memories of struggle and pain escaped his lips, and he emptied his heart and mind like they were heavy burdens. The night passed on, and we accepted the things the other had to offer, cautiously commenting along the way.
My mind raced, realizing people enter and leave our lives all the time, but every person who graces our presence does so for a reason. Every person we meet changes our lives and we are placed on the earth for each other. We are meant to learn and teach, to inspire, love, hate, and rescue. I believed, under the starry sky, that we were made for each other.
I shuffled towards Aidan, wanting badly to keep that moment, to stay next to him for the rest of my life.
However, it was our last night of the leadership conference. Closing ceremonies and goodbyes would end our experience, and we were expected to write a letter explaining what we gained from the week. Speech after speech flew through my mind, along with our volunteer work, cheers, and days of group bonding.
Although our experience was coming to an end, it was just the beginning with Aidan. After spending seven days in the same room, we should have known each other better. However, we hadn’t said a word since the week began.
Now, the beautiful, glowing boy sitting next to me, was more than just a face across the room. He was real.
Aidan looked at me and laughed.
“What’s wrong?” he questioned.
“Nothing,” I replied. “I’m just thinking about.. where to put you, in my head, I guess.”
He stared at me, his light brown eyes brows crinkling, trying to understand.
Before he could ask, I began. “Everyone has their spot, you know? Like my best friends, friends, acquaintances, people I know, but don’t talk to, and people who just represent memories. People who left, people who stayed. Things like that. I’m not sure where you belong. I mean, I’ve known who you are for a week, but I’ve only known you for a few hours and already, you’re like my best friend. So I don’t know where you belong exactly.”
“Why do I have to belong somewhere?” he blurted out, watching me. His eyes widened, and the sunken pools of gray lit up, shimmering from curiosity and the faint lighting of midnight sky.
“Because everyone has a place,” I explained.
“I think the reason why you and I are here tonight, is because we are meant to be. You and me, just like this. I’m not saying it’s planned out, I’m just saying that meeting you tonight, has it’s purpose. This isn’t just a random thing. It means something. I think every one I have ever met, I met for a reason. They don’t just come into my life for no reason. There’s got to be a bigger point. It’s about being here for each other, about belonging, in some weird way, to each other. We’re not meant to travel these roads alone, Aidan. You’re here for a reason, just like everyone else.”
He smiled, then wrapped his arm around me and watched the sky. We continued in silence, appreciating the past hours of conversations we had and the lone hour we had left. I smiled at him and the hours we had spent together, that he would be what I would take away from my experience. He would be what I learned, what I believed.
Aidan was proof that there’s a reason behind every person we meet. We met by accident, and things suddenly fit together like they were meant to be.
As humans, we pass by hundreds of people a week that we don’t even recognize. However, the people we see, the people we meet and notice, play roles in our lives. They change us, create us, and teach us. We meet people all through out our lives, and eventually, we know more people than we remember. However, each person gives us something special, a part of themselves, to take on with us through our journey of life.
Although most people we meet have positive effects on our lives, some people can negatively effect our lives and still be purposeful.
In the midst of my junior high years, the world as I knew it turned upside down and the ground I walked on crumbled before my feet. The reality of pain caused by others split my heart into thousands of pieces, and living through the agony seemed impossible. Fear flooded into my veins, like a poisonous drug entering my system. Days passed, and the memories followed me like a shadow.
Finally, the day came where the memories spewed from my lips, and the truth arrived in a precious gift box.
Although the pain destroyed so many days, the out come was worth it. When the moment of truth arrived, the ear listening to the heart ache belonged to the boy I will forever remember for saving my life. Luc Dinkins, fifteen years young, with a strong sense for faith, talked me through the pain and salvaged my life.
He spoke through the phone as if he were right next to me, explaining why God allows things to happen.
“Life is full of pain and sorrow,” he began. “But God doesn’t do these things to punish us. It’s not about punishment, it’s about learning.”
That pungent, harrowing night taught me about the purpose for the pain I endured and the purpose for the people who had caused the pain. Having pain in our lives gives us strength. Once we’ve been torn down so many times, we build resistance.
Likewise, pain also gives us a chance to build stronger relationships. While the pain had been caused by a person, the pain was easily taken away from another. Luc has blessed my life for four years now, and still, the strongest memory of him is the day he saved my life. The aches I had once felt washed away, but the friendship we built from it lives on.
People are made to be a part of others’ lives, to help them write their stories. If our lives never intertwined, we would not be the same. We build connections through the good and the bad things that happen in our lives, and every person who walks into our lives serve a purpose.
Jamie Tworkowski, founder of non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms, which helps people with depression, addiction, self-injury, loneliness, etc. once wrote “We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers…We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.”
Like Jamie Tworkowski, I believe we have a undefined duty to the people in the world. We are not mere individuals, but souls traveling time together. We have the ability to change people’s lives, whether we know it or not. Every day thousands of people roam the cities, and all together, over six billion people roam the earth. Each one of us are meant for each other, to experience life and share the moments through the prosperity and misery.
Although time changes, people change, places change, and everything around us changes, one thing remains the same; we are not alone, for we have been created and placed on the planet together. Each and every moment, we have an opportunity to meet someone new. Even if someone seems to be just another face in the crowd, they too, have a purpose for being in your life. This, I believe.