The year is 2016. I’m supposed to speak at the New York Public Library in fifteen minutes, but they are running early, so when I see the woman who hired me pacing, I swipe my credit card in the cab, grab my bag, and don’t look back. I don’t look back to see my iPad left behind on the seat next to me. It was a gift with my name engraved on it. It’s the place where I do all my writing. I have no receipt or Medallion number.…

But I do have the Find My Phone App, and my iPad is two blocks away and traveling…very slowly. Could it be coming back to me? My driver had six kids and seemed like a good, honest man. An hour later it was still so close and yet so far…the App shows my phone is still two blocks away. Library security and my Access-a-Ride driver (a Paratransit service for people with disabilities like me in NYC) both were kind enough to use the GPS coordinates to track down every yellow cab SUV nearby (like the one I arrived in)…with no results. Finally, we give up to pick up one more passenger on 42nd before heading home.

She’s wearing bright colors and from the inside, she just glows. I can tell even before we speak that she’s a deeply spiritual woman. I feel terrible that we are late to get her because of my iPad hunting. I apologize and explain about the rogue iPad. She says “Believe me, I’m just happy you came…I’m sorry about the iPad, I hope you get it back… I’m sure you will.” I say what I know is right, even though I’m still struggling with lingering disappointment… “God will take care of it….it’s only a thing.”

She says, “You’re really right. You know, a year ago my house burned down and I lost everything. My mom’s wedding dress, all our pictures, the family china…we had to start over…but me and my six kids none of us were hurt. So, I’m just grateful.” Wow. I nod and say I’m glad they were all ok. How’s the new house now? I asked. “Oh that’s not my new house…That’s a shelter.” I now feel supremely stupid for focusing on my lost iPad at all. We pray together for a new safe place for her and her children. She thanks me and we exchange numbers, and as I arrive home she says, “Please do keep me in your prayers and I pray you do get your iPad back.” We hug and I ride the elevator thinking of my beautiful new survivor friend and that my iPad Really IS ONLY A THING….I feel myself relax – surrender…. Surrender the outcome, surrender the need to find an iPad.

The moment I’m upstairs and sitting down, my phone rings. A clear, friendly voice says, “Hello! I have your iPAD… I’m at X, about to have lunch.” X is a block from where I was not even an hour ago but now I don’t mind hopping in a pricey cab and going right back. He seems warm, approachable.

“My hero!” I exclaim “Thank you; thank God! Where are you? I’ll be happy to come to you.” He agrees and because he sounds lovely, I say “I can’t wait to meet you!”

So, I venture from 81st back to 20th street to meet My iPad Guardian. As I ride, I find myself thinking unguarded thoughts like… I’d really like to know this person; I wonder if I could stay and chat a bit…still, I remind myself that I haven’t been invited to lunch and I don’t know this person. So, when my driver, a friendly finance major offers to stay and wait, I say yes… just in case.

The restaurant looks like Europe personified and is covered in flowers, a beautiful bench outside and I am called over by a voice to see two welcoming Einstein-genius/philosopher-haired men at the table near the window and cascading flowers. James and Kamal. The three of us start talking about writing, self-love (a topic all three of us write about), and after a few minutes, my iPad rescuer asks if I’d like to stay and join him and his companion. I’m relieved that my first instinct to stay is not off-base. “I’d love to, but let me just pay for my cab and I’ll be right back.” Before I can move, James jumps up and says, “Please, let me.” I’m so in shock at his kindness, I’m not sure if I even say thank you because I’m so in awe. This is not what happens when you lose an iPad…and yet…here we are.

A few minutes and googles later, we find that James and I both write for Positively Positive; and it hits me that I have read and have followed my new friend on Twitter for at least two years! “I know YOU, I can’t pronounce your last name, but I know you!” I remember reading one piece he wrote about what we can learn from spiritual leaders and saying “I’d love to meet this guy someday,” and here he was…holding my iPad hostage…. In my excitement, I find myself saying too much about everything – self-esteem, past relationships, life, near-death experiences, God. You know…just light getting-to-know-you conversation!

Then, he shares with me…

James Altucher, a well-known author of more than twenty books, entrepreneur of at least twenty companies, tells me that fifty-seven days ago he gave away all his possessions (including his Ivy League diploma). One thousand seven hundred ninety-three days now. They are only THINGS after all.

Blessed is the man rich in humility. Blessed am I to have a divine appointment with two such welcoming men.

Later that night, James writes a post about our meeting called BLESSED… and I truly am. James later tells me his post about our meeting was his most liked post ever more than his pictures with the many celebrities he interviews for his eponymous podcast.

Strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet!

Especially in New York City!

Xian and James after his “killer” stand up set at the famous Carolines in 2019

In the nearly five years since we met, James has bought a comedy club, become a world-class comic himself, had three serious relationships (is now happily married), moved to Florida, published a book and given NYers (including Seinfeld) something to talk about. Already a famous author when we met, Kamal Ravikant, has since published the book Rebirth and had a life-changing near-death experience.

I do not believe in coincidence. I do believe in daily miracles and that they flourish best with faith, and willing, open hearts.

I realize I was never meant to lose an iPad, I was only meant to gain a friend (or two)!

Now in a pandemic when I venture out so rarely, this memory means so much more and reminds me there are so many more future soulfriends to meet and make – and that gives me hope. To future friends still stuck at home, I can’t wait to meet you – even if only via Zoom for now – it’ll make the day we can hug or chase an iPad “thief” that much sweeter.


  • Xian Horn

    Beauty and Disability Advocate, Teacher, Founder

    Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, who serves as a teacher, speaker, beauty advocate, blogger, and Exemplar for the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge toward the creation of Assistive Technology. Xian was named Women's eNews' 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2017 and in Walker's Legacy Power 15 in 2018 and the first-ever Positive Exposure Rising Leader Award in 2021. Give Beauty Wings’ tailored Self-Esteem programs began at NYU's Initiative for Women with Disabilities, and serve as a bridge to promote greater self-love and discovery, purpose, and connection. She aims to reconceptualize disability representation in fashion, beauty, and media and move accessible design forward by working with Anna Sui, Derek Lam, Parsons, Pratt and F.I.T. Xian is invested in contributing positively to our concept of self-esteem and the collective purpose, especially for girls and women. She is the founder of the “Give Beauty Wings” Self-Esteem program (and subsequent non-profit) which originated at NYU's Initiative for Women with Disabilities, the Jewish Community Center Manhattan, and nationally. Xian is an award-winning speaker and contributor at Forbes and Ariana Huffington's Thrive Global and has been featured in The White House Blog's Women Working To Do Good series, the New York Times, NPR, Fast Company, NBC News, Fox 5, and Yahoo Life among others.