Why do people come into our lives? Is it random or was it meant to be? For some reason I have always believed that people cross paths for a reason. The interaction could be positive or negative, or seem meaningless.
I believe in fate to a certain degree. Maybe I was meant to learn something or be inspired or maybe the encounter was designed to plant a seed in my mind of some idea of sorts. I realize this sounds ridiculous to some, however, there is plenty written in philosophy books about there being a grand plan or design to all of creation and existence.
Some people argue that human beings are just playing out a story that is already written and yet we are not even aware of this. It would truly be amazing if the story was revealed one day and we all discovered that everything we thought, felt and acted on was pre-determined.
The only way I make sense of my beliefs is that I have come to the conclusion that the Creator gives us some control over our choices, destiny and fate; however, the Creator knows exactly what where going to end up doing even before we do it. That is just a small part of the wonder of an all-knowing and all-powerful God.
With that being said, a number of very notable people have come into my life if only for a short time. All of them have went on to do great things or were great people in my opinion. They all left a lasting impression on me and the life I have created for myself.
Evan is an accomplished actor, playwright and medical doctor of First Nations origin. I first met Evan at the YMCA on Burrard. I was a confused young man dealing with a number of personal issues. Evan took me to a popular nightspot in the city. It was the first time I had actually been to a club in my entire life. This put the idea in my mind that there is hope outside of the suburbs, and that I can actually be happy in my adult life.
Charan is the founding president of the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society and for the past 23 years has been working as the CEO of the Society. Under his leadership, the society has effectively addressed the socioeconomic needs of the community at large, directly helping immigrants, youth, seniors and the working poor. Charan not only supported but embraced Sher Vancouver, which is an LGBTQ South Asian social support group that I founded when I was looking for a non-profit partner. Charan taught me the importance of having the courage to stand up for your values and principles even in the face of community backlash and discrimination. Charan is like a social work mentor.
Sue is the current MLA for Surrey Green-Timbers. I volunteered to work on Sue's first campaign when she was elected to government as part of Premier Mike Harcourt's team in the early 1990s. I was moved by Sue's passion for not only women's equality but human rights in general. I learned from my volunteering experience that politics is one route to bring about social change in society. You don't have to be a political candidate, but you can be political in so many ways such as being a social advocate, social activist and even a social worker, which I later pursued as a career.
The late Brian Lynch was an artist and photographer in Vancouver and President of ACE or Artists for Creative Environment. This organization would work with the city to establish artists' studios in old warehouses. The galleries were on the ground floor and the artists lived in residence on the upper levels. Brian took some early modelling photographs of me. Brian and I stayed in touch for years. Brian mentored me and helped me through my ups and downs including trying to help me get through some deep depressions. I learned from Brian the importance of nurturing and supporting the arts and learning to love and take care of yourself so you can help others.
Rafael is a fashion, art and music photographer. His photographs have appeared on the cover of three Sports Illustrated swimsuit Issues in a four-year span. He was also commissioned to shoot Victoria's Secret's coffee table book. Rafael is now based in New York. Rafael shot some amazing modelling photographs of me when he was still living in Vancouver. I learned from Rafael that you have to follow your passion and sometimes be prepared to take risks. As a result, I ended up modelling in London, U.K. and eventually returned to England to do my first masters degree at the London School of Economics, or LSE, which in part helped me get my current job as a team leader with the government.
There you go! Five amazing people who left their mark on my life. Just think about your past and the people you have met and where would you be today if you did not cross paths with them. What different life journey would you be on?
Alex Sangha is an award winning author and social worker based in Surrey, B.C. For more information on Alex check out his author blog at http://alexsangha.com
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