09/20/2012 04:36 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2012

A Lunchtime Lesson About Perseverance

I recently sent a catch up text to an old coworker. We worked together in a pretty unfulfilling environment last year. My text went unanswered for a while. In the shared frustration of our former work environment, she used to tell me how hard she worked for Masters degree in Global Affairs. She told me it was her dream to work abroad.

Her text when I eventually heard back? "Giiinnnaa!! I'm sorry I didn't get back to you right away. I just returned from a trip to Afghanistan for work."

It's almost been a year since we worked together. Her news floored me but in that instant, life just clicked. Her news was comforting and unsurprising. The organization she works for strives to protect the rights of Afghan women. She specifically talked about wanting to work with the human rights of women abroad. Of course she would be in the perfect position to reach her destiny. I haven't had to chance to hear her full journey yet. Life just flows this way now.

Last night I got a call from a close friend's mom. She was in visiting NYC with her husband. This woman lost her son over a year ago. She asked if we could have lunch. At first I worried about meeting up with her, wondering how I would get the day's work finished. Maybe we should just meet for a quick coffee, I thought. Maybe there isn't time to meet at all. We agreed to leave it open ended - to make definitive plans in the morning.

When I woke up today, I heard a whisper in my heart to "just have lunch". We met this afternoon at quiet place near Union Square. We talked for two hours, laughing and even crying. It dawned on me what a privilege it is to coexist with real people who express themselves freely. My friend's mom wears a bracelet that says, "Do what you do. "That's the expression her son always used. She embodies what it means. Even grief should be done to the fullest. Today we did it together. I can't believe I considered missing the opportunity to spend time with this beautiful, strong woman.

As I walked back to my office, I thought about my old coworker, bad jobs, and painful times. I thought about perseverance and the vastly different ways we will be called to persevere. I thought about how worth it lunch was, how worth it life is.