Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Power of Possibility


I believe in possibility: the idea that at any moment, something unexpected can unfold and lead to inspiration and new direction. The key is both being open to seeing each opportunity and willing to take the risk. There is magic to be had when you are ready to walk through the open door.

Not surprisingly, one of my most memorable experiences in this regard took place in Sedona, Arizona. It is said that “spiritual vortices” are concentrated in this part of the United States. I am convinced that the way the following events unfolded is a true example of the magic that can occur when one is open to possibility.


In the late 1990s, I took a weeklong trip to Sedona. Red rocks, jeep tours, glass-bottom helicopter flights, and hiking. And, of course, photography. That plays a big part in all my trips but, as you will see, especially in this instance.
We had a hot air balloon ride scheduled early in the trip but it was cancelled due to high winds. We decided to spend the day outside of Sedona and drive to the rim of the Grand Canyon. First possibility.


We drove off with no specific plan in mind. Along the way we passed this unusual building that looked like it might be a church. It was a tiny, almost triangular structure that was all roof. A fortress of shingles. There was one large cross soaring above the apex. Without a word, we pulled over. Second possibility.

When I stepped out of the car, I saw a black film canister on the ground. Remember those? I picked it up and opened it. Third possibility. Inside was a roll of undeveloped film. In that instant I knew that I would develop the film and wished there was a way to return it to the photographer. Upon entering the church, I soon forgot all about that. We could barely fit into this little space. Hanging from every nook and cranny were notes that had been left by hundreds of people asking for help and guidance. It was an incredibly moving experience. 


We all added our own notes -- fourth possibility -- and quietly drove on to the Grand Canyon.


Upon returning to Sedona, I dropped the film off to be developed. When I picked it up, I excitedly looked through each picture. What I saw were shots of two different events: a birthday party and a group of women quilting. I sensed that one of the women in the pictures was the one who lost the film. In that moment, I knew that the reason I found the film was so that I could return it to her. Thinking she was a local as the photos weren’t typical tourist shots, I went into a quilt shop in town and explained to the owner what had happened. She sorted through the pictures and unbelievably, when she reached the last photograph, let out a gasp. One of the women in the photo was a customer, although she did not know her name or where she lived. I left the stack of pictures along with my name and address in hopes that the customer would return to the shop.

The vacation ended and real life began. Time passed with no word and I had pretty much given up on reuniting film with photographer. Several months later, however, a letter from Sedona arrived. Inside was a note, thanking me for finding the film and taking the time to try to return it. The letter was from the photographer of the lost film: the woman in the picture. She had returned to the shop and was given her photos. She was effusive in her praise. But for me, I had not done anything special. I had just been open to the power of possibility.

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Rewind: A new series, with periodic reposting of an edited version of a previous post. A longer version of this article was originally posted online in 2008 on Lisa Hoffman's site Gypsy Bonfire. But today I am curious to hear if you have a story of possibility to share...

21 comments:

Roberta said...

A lovely story Seth. I have yet to visit Sedona but when my dream of retiring to Tucson comes to fruition, I will go there and see it for myself.

Beanie Mouse said...

Not a story to share, but ain't randomness FAB???!!

elle said...

My son married a Tucson gal. We were there for the wedding. We'll go back. A connection has been made and the possibilities are...

tgarrett said...

This is so wonderful you shared this with us.

Tina Clark said...

This is a beautiful story. Thank you. I love hearing/reading this kind of thing. Possibility: I've never been to Sedona, have thought about going, but somehow as soon as I read "Sedona" in your story, before I read anything else, It somehow just came to me that I had to make it a priority.

Lin Collette said...

fabulous story. As for my story of possibility, it could be considered a sad story but I'm choosing to not look at it that way. Four years ago I lost my job due to medical reasons and I haven't been able to work since. That's the sad part. The happy part of it is that I can now work on my art much more. Isn't that possibility begetting inspiration?

Jo Murray said...

A great story....and lovely photos. What a lucky woman that you found her film!

Stacey Merrill said...

Thanks for taking us on your journey, Seth.

Nina Clark said...

That is what life is all about!

Renee said...

I lived in Sedona for a year and never tired of the way the red rocks looked different all day long. It is a beautiful, magical place. Thanks for sharing that story.

diana trout said...

Great story, Seth. I love the way you put this. I do have a story, rather a long one. I have only one of the pieces of any art that illustrate it left. Though there may be some slides and sketches somewhere. I may just tell it.

There is definitely magic in this world.

Kelly Kilmer said...

I was there in 2011 by accident with my Dad and Tristan on the way to the Grand Canyon. Going back with my Mom and Tristan and want to try to find it again...

Julie Mortillaro said...

This is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing, both the story and your beautiful photos too?

snipsandsnalilandpuppydogtails said...

Absolutely! The best, most life-altering events of my life have been the result of walking through the open door. Most recently, it seems the universe is looking out for me/us. Nice story.

Darlene Campbell said...

A spirited post Seth! Oh yes, I believe in the power of possibility, and if I saw a yellow brick road today, I'd follow it.
I believe we need to be open to the art of possibility, to listen and see. I write my stories in a Moleskine journal and sometimes add art or a photograph. I wrote these words that I think sum it up for me, " There is an energy...a creative energy that will reach me if I listen to the whispers."
Cheers-Darlene

JackieP Neal said...

I too believe in the power of possibility...
I have no story to think of but I surely appreciate yours told! Thank you!
and Darlene, come visit me, and I'll take you to The Yellow Brick Road, and we'll walk it together!

L. Marie Figtree said...

Hello Seth! Thanks for sharing your lovely story - I too have had more than one magical experience while spending a week's vacay in Sedona, with a not-to-be missed excursion to the Canyon, as well as a first time meeting with a blood uncle who lives in Prescott. That was way back in 2006, and I am OVERDUE for a return visit. Still standing in the possibility, and waiting for that door to open for me again. Glad I stumbled upon your blog, thanks again for posting!

Sue Marrazzo said...

AWESOME!

Lindi Stevenson said...

Seth, I SO believe in the power of possibilities and how life takes you right where you need to be if you are open enough to see it. One of my favorite stories of possibility involves YOU actually! I found your blog, I took a chance and sent you a piece of art, and then one October day in 2012, I made a right instead of a left and ended up at the right place at the right time. The full story is here http://www.lindistevenson.com/tag/brave-girls-club/ Feeling the possibilities of today!

Parabolic Muse said...

This is a great feature! So many serendipitous events happen to us and we not only don't think to share them, we sometimes don't take note of them ourselves! I love this story. Thanks for sharing.

My name is Wynneth said...

Hi Seth, thanks so much for sharing this story, I've been to Sedona on two ocassionslly. The first time was after speaking to a lovely lady I met whilst standing outside a hotel in Las Vegas. As we chatted she told me "you HAVE to go to Sedona" and the way she described it made me want to visit so badly. We were planning to head to the Grand Canyon so included a visit during the trip and she was so right ! On another trip to the USA I decided to revisit Sedona once again, I love the Grand Canyon area, and Sedona is a magical place, I always feel drawn to go back. An open door of possibilities appeared when you sent me an email to let me know something I created was featured on your blog. I was overwhelmed as I had felt in awe of your work and couldn't believe you had even looked at something I had created. getting the link to your blog has given me wonderful inspiration and vision for what I can aspire to create in the future, thank you so much.
Hugs Wynneth X