I’m currently in the process of writing my story — my life journey so far — as a way to process my thoughts and feelings, to further heal and integrate myself and to put my journey in perspective for myself (and perhaps others down the track). For many years I felt a lot of pain about certain aspects of my life, the way certain things had unfolded and how many things had happened, or not happened. And somehow writing it down helps me see things from an entirely different perspective, and to feel that there is perhaps a benevolent reason for all the things have happened along the way, and that everything has led me exactly to where I’m supposed to be — right here, right now. I’ve recently been writing about a time in my life when I was 23 years old and at University finishing my year-long Honours research project. Writing about this part of my life got me thinking and pondering the random or not so random nature of life.

Have you ever had one of those moments in life where one minute you’re moving along in a certain direction, thinking you know where you’re headed and what you’re working towards, and then boom! Suddenly something comes out of left field and not only changes your direction, but changes the entire course of your life? And afterwards you’re left thinking “Wow?!” Imagine if that certain event or interaction hadn’t happened? Where would I be now? Out of the infinite different possibilities and paths that my life can follow, how did I end up on this particular one and was it coincidence? A random accident? Or the hand of something larger than ourselves forcing our life onto a path it is meant to follow?

I had one of these moments in 1998. It changed the course of my life forever. It went like this:

I was working in my lab one afternoon, finishing some experiments that I desperately needed to finish in order to finish writing my Honours thesis, when a guy knocked on the door and said his name was Mark, and asked if I was Katie. He’d heard about me through one of his lecturers, who happened to be one of my supervisors. When I said yes that was me, he said he was finishing his mineral science degree and had just returned from Reno in the U.S.A, where he had been doing work experience for a big company who was doing exactly the kind of research that my Honours research was about. He said “You’re working on bioleaching right?” (a biological process for breaking down minerals to free up the precious metals for those who are interested!). When I confirmed that yes I indeed was, he said that this company was looking for graduates with specific experience in bioleaching, and that I should ring this lady to see if I could apply for one of the roles. He gave me the number of the lady I should call, wished me good luck, gave me the names of a few people to meet up with when I got there (if I got the job), and then said he had to go and left. I never saw him again!

The opportunity sounded super exciting — who wouldn’t want to be paid to move to the United States straight after Uni for a great job? I spoke with the lady he recommended, and the next thing I had a job offer in my hands. This was October 1998, and I was being offered a job with the company starting in November. At the time I was in a destructive relationship that had been on and off for at least four years, which I’d tried leaving several times but without success (we loved each other but you know how these first loves can be, we also hurt each other a lot). Life had been hell for at least a couple of years as I struggled with this relationship while juggling the incredible demands of my full-time studies, two part-time jobs, my parents’ divorce and a hefty social life. This was my opportunity to start anew, to get great experience and to travel to amazing places I had only dreamed of. So I said yes!

That decision changed the course of my life forever. While in Reno I had an amazing time, worked hard, partied a lot, learned to snowboard, made amazing lifelong friends. And I met my husband Bas with whom I now have two beautiful children. Bas is from Holland and so we spent many years living and working in The Netherlands. I learned to speak fluent Dutch, I worked as a consultant with a Dutch company for many years, we lived and partied in Amsterdam and other cities in Holland, and I’ve inherited my beautiful Dutch family-in-law and have some amazing Dutch friends. That one visit from ‘Mark’ in the lab that afternoon in Perth, Australia changed the entire course of my life, with a unique set of ups and downs, good times and dark times to follow; all that have shaped and molded the person I am today.

I’ve since often wondered who was this guy Mark? I don’t even remember his last name so I wouldn’t be able to look him up and to tell him how much his short visit changed my life. I’m not able to thank him for the incredible impact he had on my life direction. And sometimes I even wonder if he was real? Since I’ve never been able to find him again, was he some kind of angel, sent to get my life on the path it needed to be? It seems too surreal and impactful to be ‘random’ or ‘coincidental’. What if he’d decided not to drop past my lab to tell me this company was hiring? What path would my life have taken then if I hadn’t rung them about the job? Was it coincidence? Or divine intervention? I really don’t know the answer to this. But something deep within me believes it was meant to be, that perhaps it’s not so random. All the good — the really good & beautiful — plus the bad, the ugly and heart-breaking that followed as a result of me taking that specific life path, all seem to have been perfectly designed to get me to right where I am now — warts, miracles and all.

Have you had a moment like that that’s changed the course of your life forever?
What’s your verdict? Is it random? Coincidental? Or not so random at all….?

In service to helping you live your fullest and brightest life,

Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Life Coach & Career Strategist
Whispering Heart Coaching

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