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Postcards from the Edge: a delivery from the universe

Recently, we got a postcard from ourselves.

While traveling in the Galapagos, we learned an island tradition regarding mail delivery, dating back to the 1800s. Given the absence of postal service, people left their correspondence in a wooden box on the tiny island of Floreana.

Anyone passing through would look through the letters to find those addressed close to home, and then take responsibility for completing the delivery process.

To replicate the tradition, tourists on the island today write postcards to themselves and leave them in the box, hoping that later tourists might deliver the cards. Our guide emphasized that this should happen face-to-face, and not by dropping the cards in the mail.

There was excitement as our group sorted through the postcards that had been left by previous tourists, looking for addresses close to home. Hey, I can get that to Boston! Yes, I'm from Denver! I'll take that one to Kansas City!

When we found a postcard destined for the nearby town of Zionsville, Indiana, we promised to fulfill the old tradition and deliver it.

And we dropped the ball.

We returned home, unpacked, did our laundry, and got back to work. In fact, it took a full four months before we remembered the postcard and worked up the gumption to deliver it in person.

The addressee's house was lit up, but no one answered the doorbell. We left their postcard as well as a bottle of wine on their porch, and then drove home wondering whether the whole enterprise had been worth it.

But two weeks later, I went to our mailbox and pulled out the postcard that we had written to ourselves and left behind in the wooden box on that tiny island. It had indeed been hand-delivered — regrettably while we were not at home. Nevertheless, it was a moment of surprise and wonder.

I know karma plays out in cycles and in ways far beyond my comprehension, but I still felt as though I was observing a miniature karmic circle — our own act of good faith and responsibility circling back to us.

To me, it was a reminder of the many, many people who act in good faith and in the interest of those whom they might never meet. It was a message to trust humanity, to trust the universe to unfold as it should.

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