July 26, 2018 Matt Hampton
When you combine two writers, an impending thunderstorm and some caffeine on a patio at a small coffee shop in Goose Creek, SC you are bound to get a ton of energy and an incredible amount of stories. Admittedly, if I were going to record any of the 100 meetings, this is the one I would’ve wanted to record. But rules are rules for this experiment and so you will have to find the time to meet the incredible and, dare I say, fabulous Michelle Bryant Griffin and make a connection that can truly be described as unforgettable.
Michelle and I share a common background as writers. We laughed about our shared experience in organized writing programs, and my admission that I found them harder to endure than Basic Military Training. She is a person who, like myself, has been shaped and formed by adversity though her shaping has been very different from mine. Where I have lived decades of my life as an incredible survivor who views most things as a fight, Michelle has developed a deeply held belief that there is a true silver-lining to everything. Her positivity is incredible. She sees the true good in people and we reflected on how people come together in times of crisis, no matter the divisions and how beautiful that really is.
She is also a person who, like me, sees the value in adversity. In the temper that is found when we are forced to work harder, to hold onto our dreams and fight to see them come to fruition. She is a photographer as well. (She definitively helped me find the appropriate angle for this picture and I am eternally grateful.) Her combination of skills, her love of people and her desire to focus on true beauty have led her to publish her own quarterly magazine, Focus on Fabulous. It is safe to say, I liked her a lot and I am looking forward to our future conversations.
During our time together, we exchanged stories in a rapid-fire back and forth. I any third party who was present would have struggled to fit a word in edgewise, but we fell into an incredible rhythm where those anecdotes flowed from one into another and the rivers of conversation just found there way naturally.
It is in those stories that we built our connection. An undeniable truth, is that we discover the connective tissue of our blossoming relationships in the stories we share. When we are willing to open up, to be vulnerable, we discover the little idiosyncrasies that make our own little worlds, that craft us into the characters that appear in each others’ version of the great book.
Michelle and I have both been divorced, though we have very different relationships with our former spouses, and we both understand the need for people to admit the nature of there relationships with each other. It is a thing often spoken of with great pain, the concept that you can like, love but not be able to live with someone. Yet she speaks of it with such a matter of fact tone, it is simply the reality of the world, and it is something that I fully understand.
Life is full of meetings and partings, a fact so close to me right now. We cannot choose when or where we will part from someone, and we have no idea who will be the person who has the biggest impact on us. We can never know where, when or for how long they will be there. To Michelle, we must embrace that opportunity with everyone we meet, everyone we encounter, and understand the power they can have on our lives. When she speaks of it, it is as certain as a physicist speaks of Newton’s Laws, it is immutable and true.
I completely agree with her. In only four days, I can feel the transformative effect of this experiment on me already. I question my perception of the world as a fight, see the perspectives of four people I have never met before and find myself the custodian of the most marvelous stories, truly among the greatest possessions that can be bestowed upon us by someone. They have been given so freely, they have taken mine in the same vein. To say Michelle had an impact, that a connection was made, would be an understatement. Meeting her, and all of the first four, have changed my life. She was the one who articulated it to words, but it was absolutely true, we can never know when and where we will meet the people who impact us.
I have never encountered Michelle before, but I am glad I did. I look forward to conversations with my new friend. I can’t wait to pen something for Focus on Fabulous. Our meeting was ended by an epic assault of the elements, but I know this is not the end of our conversation, not by a long shot.
(And now for the question.)
Favorite DinosaurL Doesn’t know much about dinosaurs. (No one gets away that easily.)
Favorite Animal: Fish – they are beautiful, marvelous and seeing them makes her calm and happy. But my personal favorite reason: “And although independent fish are all about community”