Encounters. It is what my book is about. What life is about. Ordinary, fleeting, transformative, cathartic, impromptu, often unnoticed, sometimes disregarded encounters.
They can be beautiful, ruinous, innocent, scarring, rewarding, unwanted, but they make us who we are, they give meaning to what we do and what’s most exciting is how unpredictable they can be. Control freaks, look away.
Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is, Saul Bellow
This is not the first time I find myself praising encounters. My time in Gatwick, however unfulfilling at times, has left me with a profusion of micro-encounters and a palette of personalities. My time as an architectural tour guide, however challenging, paved the way for one of my yellows and culminated in a memorable evening at her Majesty’s Theatre. My six-month stint in Paris, however gruelling at first, turned my life upside down (downside up?) and led me to the love of my life. My trek in the Sahara was filled with emotion and enthralling encounters and the 10 days I spent travelling in Sri Lanka (this will be news to you) were nothing but encounter upon encounter, against a monsoonal background.
Of course, there are the ruinous encounters too but those are not welcome in this post. Not because they should not be addressed but because:
- There is a time and a place.
- Beautiful trumps ruinous.
- Ruinous can be beautiful in its own twisted, formative way.
The reason I write today is because, ever since I moved to Verona five months ago, encounters have been front and center in my role as an English teacher. Cheeky three year-olds, insightful paper mill directors, all-work-and-no-play HR directors, young girls at sea, meticulous hypnosis trainees and of course, fellow teachers from diverse backgrounds.
What have I learned so far? That in a teacher-student dynamic, the teacher is not the sole educator. I learn from my students every single day, whether it be a word in Italian, a detailed account of the paper-making process and with the little ones, patience. Oh so much patience.
Combined with my job in content writing (this will be news too), I am finally at a place where I can look into the future and see something solid. Something MFA-like. Something New Yorkesque. Something that will teach me how to turn these encounters into a structured piece of writing. Something that will undoubtedly lead to many more encounters.
Can we all cross some fingers?