I met him at Orange Cycle, a bustling bike shop in College Park, and instantly liked him. I was shopping for gifts for my husband’s 40th birthday; he was a sales associate, inquiring, helpful and unexpectedly fun. I usually like to be left alone when shopping, especially adverse to sales people. But he felt more like a friend along for the ride, exploring, laughing and conversing as gift ideas were considered, discarded, and finally chosen along the way.
His name was Thijs, recently from Holland, an art teacher originally but liked cycling and made more money selling bikes than teaching, so it worked for him right now. At 6’4” he never felt tall or out of reach, even to my 5’2” frame. He smiled with his eyes and laughed easily, and there was a warmth of being and familiarity about him that made him stand out from the others. There was something about him that drew my spirit from its quiet hiding of reserve and aloofness donned for public settings and delighted suddenly in unexpected connection there in the middle of the bike shop. Between water bottles and nutrition bars, in the ordinary routine of perfunctory task, in the most un-soulful-like surroundings of sprockets and tires, soul connected with soul. It was instantaneous, uncontrived, intriguing and energizing. I left feeling uplifted and determined–determined that my husband and daughter must meet him and only use him when shopping there in the future, and determined to wonder more about the notion of soul, connection, spirit and being.
Over the course of my 39 years I have had the pleasure of spirit connecting with spirit, soul with soul, in many different arenas, places, times, moments and cultures. Some have been just in passing, others lasted seasons longer, and still others I enjoy even to this day. But the wonder of it has continued to pull at me—why the connection with some and not others? What is it about the spirit / soul / being that seems to instantly recognize another to whom it belongs? “Belongs” seems a strong word, but nonetheless true in its essence. In the moment of soul connecting with soul there is the sense of finding another that was meant to be found, an almost reuniting, a rightness, a “getting it” of one another that was meant to be gotten by the particular other, no matter how deep or surface that getting it may be. It makes no difference the gender, age, culture or status of the individual–rich, poor, near, far, male, female — it’s soul– timeless, ageless, status-less– and it’s meant to connect, especially so with the one to whom connection is mutually drawing and effortless. But what is it about one’s soul that calls to another, that recognizes the kindredness in ways that sometimes defies logic, purpose or intent?
Several months after meeting Thijs I was on a Spring-day walk pondering still this mystery of soul-connection and decided suddenly I should interview him. Perhaps in finding out more about him, his background, his present life, his dreams, I would find clues that would get me closer to greater soul understanding. And so after not seeing him for months, I called him. We met. We drank hot chocolate. We talked. I asked questions and found out more about his country (amazingly man-made), his family (closely knit), his community back home (looked after each other), his love for children, dream of being a Paramedic, and longing to get back into Theatre (something he had grown up doing). We laughed, shared common ground, finished our drinks and parted.
I left with a deeper level of respect for Orange Cycle owners for having the savvy-ness of hiring such quality associates, and a greater appreciation for the person Thijs was and wanted to be. But as to the whys and workings of soul connection, I was none the wiser. It just was. And I was just thankful to have been blessed to experience it again, understood or not.
Knowing myself, I’ll continue to ponder, wonder and ask questions why. And maybe one day I’ll understand a little more. Maybe not. Either way, I found soul in the bike shop and know where my next bike, and soul smile, will come from.
Soul connection can unexpectedly happen in the most ordinary of moments, most common of places. Slow down, be aware, be open to the other soul that’s waiting to connect with yours and enjoy!
Orignally published at Examiner