Updated: Aug 12, 2019
I barged through the doors that stood between me and post-work freedom as the brisk December air pushed back in resistance. Persistent and unafraid, I zoomed past the college students with nowhere to go, laser-focused on the green-lit ball of the 116th Street 1 train station. My feet followed each other, one after the other, hoping they would make it to daycare just in time for Lyla to avoid being the last child in the play area. Her eyes tend to droop from the corners when she’s sad, and that same face meets me at daycare when I am late. I fumbled with my purse when I made it to the turnstile, snatched the green MetroCard out of my wallet, and zipped it through the reader. One foot after the other, I raced down the steps only to find that the next train was 11 minutes away.
"Of course, this would happen to me," I snarled, which gave my anxiety the green light to do what it does best:
"You never leave on time.
If you would have prioritized your time better, you could have made it to the last train.
Focus more on your side hustle, you’re not doing enough to take yourself out of this situation.
Are you ever going to organize your own schedule?
I’m never going to be able to pull this entrepreneurial shit off.
Who do I think I am?"
A buzz on my phone pulls me out of a downward spiral and “McDreamy” with a heart-face cat emoji illuminates my screen. His text reads:
“I’m picking up Lyla from daycare with Emmett (our dog).”
I smile the smile that shows itself when I feel the Universe conspiring in my favor, and hear myself say “thank you” in my head. “I am blessed,” I type in a response, put my phone away, and use the remaining 10 minutes to catch up on my reading. Despite what my thoughts tell me about my entrepreneurial abilities, Gutsy Girl is teaching me a thing or two about being my own boss. In the background of Kate White’s argument that I’m "settling for less than I should”, the rumblings of a train at the next station send vibrations through the bottoms of my boots. As I begin to put my book away, the roar of the wheels against the rails is interrupted by a loud horn. Every native New Yorker, especially this one from Washington Heights, knows what that horn means. The loudspeaker crackles:
“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, pardon the interruption. This 1 train will not stop at the 116th street station. Please wait for the next train.”
The collective grunt of everyone waiting on the platform fills the air. My eyes involuntarily roll behind my head before I remember that Terrell has already picked up Lyla and that I could use the extra reading time because I am behind on my monthly goal, anyway. When the next train arrives I squeeze myself in, ignoring the nasty looks from the person behind me that can’t get in, and make my way to 168th street.
When the train pulls up to my platform, I dash towards the elevator which upon my arrival is too full. By the time I reach my building, my fingers are frozen, I am out of breath, and a UPS delivery man just so happens to meet me at the entrance. His face softens when he sees me pull out my keys and in turn lugs a giant box onto his back. I assume every delivery man knows that betting on our intercom to work is like hoping the Knicks make it to the NBA finals, and this is why he was so relieved. We let ourselves inside and for a moment I wonder whose name is on the package, remembering that Santa (or Amazon in this case) shipped out Lyla’s Christmas gifts but they weren’t due until the following week.
“Excuse me, do you mind telling me who the package is for?” I ask, feeling that cold sensation in the pit of my stomach when I know I’m right.
The delivery man’s eyebrows scrunched, looking displeased that I asked for a favor in return for opening the door.
“Uh, Destiny? 5E?”
“Yep, that’s me.”
“Wow, just in time,” the delivery man responds as his eyebrow hairs let go of one another and he queues up his machine for a signature.
To understand why this moment is part of a larger scheme, it is important to note how package delivery and attainment occurs in my majestic hood of Washington Heights. Despite the fact that I pay gentrified rent, I’m still susceptible to getting my packages stolen. If I am lucky enough to receive a tracking number, I can calculate the arrival of my package and do one of the following:
1. Pray I’m there when the package arrives so that I can open the door downstairs.
2. Pray the delivery people leave the package in front of my door and nobody steals it.
2. Pray the delivery people don’t leave it by the mailboxes in the lobby, because then it is sure to get stolen.
This package contained Lyla’s #1 Christmas wish: A giant dollhouse. As you may imagine, the package is twice her length, five times her width, and anything that big has a “steal me” sticker right on the shipping label. I restructured the fact that I arrived together with her dream house as a series of fortunate events in my mind, dragged the package up to the 5th floor and met my dog alongside my smiling girl at the entryway of our apartment.
These series of events have multiple aliases. Some people call them “coincidences," others prefer the term, “synchronicity” or “alignment.” Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” would call them “omens”, but for the sake of you and I, let’s call them a series of fortunate events.
Think about the times where life is almost too good to be true:
When the elevator opens just in time for you to arrive at the train platform and hop on your train.
When you save half of that banana bread you ate for lunch instead of throwing it out because something told you to, and you encounter a homeless person in need of food later in the day.
When packages that are sure to be stolen or taken to the post office arrive at the foot of your building just as you turn the corner after being on a delayed train.
The Universe speaks to me in ways that it knows I will listen.
I am a binary thinker which is a fancy way of saying I struggle with grey area, and need very clear signs or nudges. Looking for "coincidences" allows me to see the beauty in the midst of the ordinary. For example, I noticed that whenever I’ve shifted in mindset or have experienced growth in some way, I either find a feather, or I see a flock of birds fly into the sky. It never fails. When I have an idea that’s going to have a good outcome, I see a light turn on in a random window, it never fails. Angel numbers are also a huge part of the way the Universe communicates with me. In order to catch these signs, it has become important for me to practice being in the present by
feeling how the wind caresses my face,
exploring the role music plays in my overall wellness,
questioning how my energy lifts when I notice my daughter smiling,
and feeling how my heart opens when she gives me a kiss, amongst other things.
Much of my anxiety stems from the past (what could I have done differently) and from the future (what do I have to do now in order to be ready for tomorrow). When I stumble upon a series of fortunate events they remind me that I am in the now, and that I am grateful. “Coincidences” are how the Universe uncovers its plans to me and ensures I am truly seeing the world versus just living in it. They also help me release fear of the unknown because these “coincidences” confirm that I’m on the right path. This doesn’t mean that my life is filled with endless positivity. At times the outcomes of these series of fortunate events are not as light-hearted because there may be a lesson to learn in topics such as surrendering, letting go, or most recently, resting.
The next time you notice your own series of fortunate events, and I know you will because now you’ll be looking, ask yourself: “What is the lesson here?” I can assure you, there is always something to learn. It is your awareness that helps you see coincidences in the first place, and then faith (however you interpret the word) helps you to understand them. Awareness can be cultivated in a number of ways, but for me what works best is meditation (Try Calm for free).
I am always asked how I remain positive - it is by practicing this idea of connecting my series of fortunate events and discovering their meaning. I actively chase the path that creates itself… just for me.
The very next morning I embark on my regular routine, drop Lyla off at school, and make my way back to 168th street. I walk straight through the neighborhood of my childhood and turn left on the right side of 168th street - like I do every Monday through Friday. The Power of Habit suggests that after we do things so many times they become ingrained habits that function on auto-pilot. We don’t even think about them! As I do every morning, I swiped my green MetroCard through the reader and walked over to the elevators. Without thinking, I make my way past the first elevator button towards the second elevator button and press it, which prompts the second to last door to open wide. I notice that I didn’t really think about hitting that button before doing so, shrugged it off and walked into the elevator. As I turn to hit the 1 train button, I spot the number of the elevator and smile the smile that shows itself when I feel the Universe conspiring in my favor. The number of the elevator was 111.
As I always do, This series of fortunate events nudges me to think: What is the lesson I’m supposed to learn? Resigned, I decide that this is another way of the Universe telling me to let go, and trust my snap judgements because they lead me to where I need to go at the right time. The elevator door opens, and just as my foot makes it down the last step of the train platform, the doors to the 1 train open, and I silently hear myself say, “thank you.”