My primary motivation in writing the 53-part reflection on walking the Camino in 2013 was to assemble the “chapters” into a book to gift to our 9 grandchildren. This is the sixth such volume I have created to share our life experiences with then.
The book, “The Way, Our Way”, has now been electronically assembled, lacking only an “Introduction” before sending it off to the printer. 280 pages in all and measuring 12”x12”, it is a project that I am proud to give them. We hope that in time the grandchildren (or great-grandchildren!) may find the words and images inspiring.
The book will not be available to the public, even though the contents have been presented over the preceding months on my website. Part 1: “The Way” it Began | Peter M. Schloss, J.D. – Mediator. (mediationkc.com)
Since I have shared the 53 “chapters” with you readers, I thought it appropriate that I also share my “Introduction”:
“The Butterfly Effect”
Conventional wisdom holds that the keys to a life well lived are focus and dedicated effort toward a goal. I believe that to be true, but only in part. Life is also a lottery where chance often comes into play. Seemingly insignificant opportunities and events occur throughout life which later loom large as having been life changing. It is only when we gaze into the rear-view mirror of our experiences that we can fully appreciate how small decisions set into motion events with monumental consequences. Here is just one example from my life with direct consequences for your parents and each of you:
In June of 1974 I accepted a job with the State of Missouri as a Probation and Parole Officer. I was given the option of an assignment in either St. Louis or Kansas City. I chose Kansas City solely on the basis that I had never been there before.
On July 7th I arrived in Kansas City with my small dog, “Samson Socrates”. Everything that I owned fit in my 1965 Dodge. My only furniture was a small 1920’s oak typing table that was salvaged from the remodeling of an old Chicago suburban high school. It served as my dinner table, and an orange Coleman ice chest was my chair. I secured a very small studio apartment ($119.00 per month rent, including utilities) which had a “Murphy Bed” that pulled out of the wall, each night transforming my living room into my bedroom. The apartment was little more than a place to stay dry and warm. I knew no one in Kansas City. It was an emotionally bleak time spent mostly focused on work and my dog.
Samson provided me with some companionship. Taking him on long walks allowed for exploration of the neighborhoods and nearby shopping district. Occasionally, a stranger would stop to pet “Sam” and offer me some non-work related human contact. On one such evening’s walk a long-haired man who appeared to be in his 20’s called to me from the front porch of an older home that faced the busy Southwest Trafficway. Over the noise of the traffic he yelled out, “Hey, what’s up?” I responded that I was just out walking my dog. “Want a beer?” I was surprised by the offer, and gratefully accepted.
We spoke, I finished the beer, and then as I prepared to leave, I offered my thanks. “You don’t have to thank me, this isn’t my party. The hostess is inside or out back.” I decided to extend my stay and human contact by seeking out “the hostess”. Other folks inside directed me to the back yard where I introduced myself to an attractive young woman. At her urging I became the beneficiary of a second beer, and we began to talk. I spoke of my arrival in Kansas City, my work, my travels, and more. She reciprocated, but mostly with questions that encouraged me to share more of my “story”. We sat beneath a huge oak tree as time stood still. The encounter lasted nearly 3 hours. It was with regret that I finally said that I had to be going. My spirits lifted as she asked if I might come by and visit again.
If you haven’t already guessed, that young woman was your Grandmother. We began to date, but not without a few “speedbumps” of my own creation. We married in June of 1977 and were blessed with the birth of our children, your parents.
What if I had chosen St. Louis over Kansas City? What if I had walked Samson in a different direction? What prompted that man to call out to me with the offer of a beer? What if I had not accepted? Think of how life changed for me, Christine, your parents, and each of you by my decision to seek out “the hostess” merely to say thank you. What if Christine had not invited me back for another visit? I came to know why she did. Years later she shared that she had found me handsome, fascinating, an adventurous soul, almost exotic.
The events from that day in 1974 were the flutter of a butterfly’s wing that grew into the adventure of our lives. You might ask what this has to do with walking the Camino in 2013? As you will read in these pages, a friend’s innocent suggestion that I see a movie, “The Way”, is another time that the butterfly’s wings fluttered.
In retrospect, my life appears an endless series of seemingly insignificant moments that grew into experiences of consequence. I hope that someday you may reflect on your own lives and have the good fortune to say it was the journey and not the destination that brings you to smile and embrace someone you love.
Love to each of you and those who you bring into the World.
Peace, and Buen Camino. Grandfather
Written at Kansas City, Missouri. February 2, 2022. (2-2-22!)