Backstage pass

Two weeks ago a friend and I went to the Rubin museum in NY to see a talk by a person who is a legend in his field. It was, as expected, a wonderful talk, insightful and full of information and fascinating anecdotes.

Afterward, people went up to the stage to talk to the great man. My friend asked me whether I wanted to go up as well. She knew I had questions I wanted to ask him.

I said I’d rather not. I’ve seen that scene before: An already exhausted speaker, patiently entertaining random questions from strangers who want a moment with the famous guy, when all he really wants to do is chill out and rest after being up on stage for an hour.

I told her I’d rather just wait until I run into the man at some professional event, when he and I can meet as colleagues. I don’t think my friend quite believed me, and I’m not really sure that I believed me. She and I both knew that the speaker and I are not at all in the same field.

By complete coincidence this same man and I were both invited to be speakers at this weekend’s little Sea Island think tank. We ended up having a deep conversation about one of the technical points in his Rubin museum talk, followed up by an email exchange with references to published research papers.

So it turns out, by some crazy twist of fate, that I had been right. I did indeed meet the same guy at a professional event, only this time not as a random audience member but as a professional colleague.

Maybe it was a complete coincidence, or maybe it was just the Universe having a bit of fun. In either case, it’s nice to know that sometimes life hands you a backstage pass.

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