Tracing my path to this place

I have a bad habit of tracing the paths leading up to certain points in my life. Or rather, a reflective habit.

I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am today. I feel lucky to have met the people who have come across my path. And I feel there’s an intricate stream of events leading up to every moment of our lives.

When I was younger, I remember my cousin, Greg, was a great guitar player. I wanted to play like he did, so I bought a starter guitar with all of the birthday money I’d been saving for reasons of which I was unaware until that point. Greg taught me many songs and instilled in me a drive to continue learning.

Six years later, upon graduating from secondary school and fighting against a potential trip to New Zealand due to a lack of money, my grandfather encouraged me to stop worrying and just go. He reminded me that the opportunity may never arise again.

While overseas, I met a new friend, Simon. Not only is he a wonderful man, he’s also incredibly talented and has three acoustic albums to his name.

I eventually flew home and attended engineering school. He stayed overseas and became a busker. Five years passed, we ended up living in the same place, and he became my guitar teacher.

Two years later, I find myself living in Africa, teaching guitar to some of the locals. They’re using their newfound skill to lead people in song at a nearby outdoor church.

Thank you, Simon.

Thank you, my dear Grandpa Frank.

And at the very beginning, thank you Greg.

But how did I come to live in Africa?

You see, many moons ago, while sitting in a programming class at university, I met a character named Daniel. He was quite shy and our encounters were slightly awkward at first. Despite having little in common, at least to our knowledge, we became friends. We soon discovered we both enjoy playing squash. And we learned we both enjoy throwing the Frisbee around. And we realized we’re both huge geeks.

Three years later, I stood beside this good man at his wedding.

Six months after that, he invited me to a free lunch held by a Baptist group at our university.

Five weeks into those meals, I was introduced to a man named Abram. Abram from South Carolina, who happened to be visiting our school that day. He introduced me to his brother, Seth, who lives in Congo.

Now I’m here. Living in Congo with Seth and his wonderful family. And it’s all thanks to an awkward meeting four years ago.

Thank you, Seth, for taking a chance on me.

Thank you, Abram, for steering our conversation toward Africa.

And thank you, Daniel, for bringing me here today. You may not realize it, but you are the true reason I will be greeting people in Swahili tomorrow.

But how did I stumble upon the provisions for the trip I’m taking?

Well, fourteen years ago, one of my uncles introduced me to the world of computers. Growing up in a small village with, Heaven forbid, dial-up Internet, I often had my parents drive me to my uncle’s house in the neighboring city on weekends so I could play games on his highspeed connection. During those times, he taught me how to build computers and navigate the Internet. He showed me how to wire up circuit boards and bend electronics to my will.

That spark led me to learn how to program as a young lad.

That, in turn, led me to obtain a degree in software engineering, which now allows me to work anywhere in the world. As such, between this very blog and various contract jobs, I’m able to finance my adventure.

Thank you, Uncle Curt, for igniting that technical, or perhaps more apt, geeky, fire in me so many years ago.

I truly believe that there’s a reason behind every serendipitous encounter we experience. Take a moment and think about where you are right now. If you’re able to borrow a few minutes from your busy schedule, I think you’ll be surprised at just how many people helped you arrive in this place.