a stranger.

“meeting a stranger can be totally fleeting and meaningless, for example, unless you enter the individual’s world by finding out at least one thing that is meaningful to his or her life and exchange at lest one genuine feeling. tuning in to others is a circular flow: you send yourself out toward people; you receive them as they respond to you.” (deepak chopra)

creative writing challenge: day 10.

if you and i have ever had a conversation you will know how much i adore an encounter with a stranger.

even in a place as vast as a train station two strangers may realise that they are yet to meet.
even in a place as vast as a train station two strangers may realise that they are yet to meet.

this can take many forms: the g’day as you pass a fellow runner on your morning jaunt. the silent stare you give one another whilst watching someone doing some thing outrageously humorous on the transit. the handshake you give to your friend’s acquaintance whose name you forget because you assume you will never meet him or her again. the spontaneous smile you give the handsome bloke in the checkout line next to yours. the blushing cheeks that burn when he looks back over his shoulder only to disappear out the door, prematurely gone. or how about the good samaritan that returns your wallet or the kind waiter that chases after you because you left your umbrella inside. then there is the friend’s neighbour that takes you in because you’re new in town. or the hotel clerk that can’t speak your language but makes sure you feel at home. the crossing guard that helps you find your way … the homeless man who you serve for five years but yet you never know his name.

what is a memorable, impressionable encounter you have had with a stranger? i would love for you to share by recounting your memory in the comment field at the bottom of this post. in exchange for your honesty i will indulge in a recent story of my own …

as you know i’m just home. lost somewhere between foreign and familiar. there amongst the familiarity an unknown person to me was to be found. two fridays past blindsided by what would be a beautiful stranger there he was — crossed over arms tied tightly around his chest. i challenged his trepidations and well you can envision what happened next. the blindsided factor? this all happened in thirty minutes flat. the beautiful factor? to discover that in a room full of foreign beings someone can still be drawn mysteriously to you.

a young punk love embrace.  (credit: derek berg, east village nyc 1984)
a young punk love embrace. (credit: derek berg, east village nyc 1984)

you see, strangers are indeed beautiful creatures. an opportunity to learn; a chance to experiment. as children we’re taught not to talk to strangers, which of course is the right thing to cultivate in them; to protect them from harm. but as we grow up, grow more open, we should be talking to one another more — let go of the risk in saying hello for closed silence can only hurt us more.

we should be open to learning from and experimenting with someone unassuming — the person we think we’d never know. for once you uncrossed your arms and wrap them around another human in an embrace, in that circular flow, you do indeed exchange something meaningful. and whether it is ever-fleeting or forever perpetual you took that brave step towards someone. and should you never meet again tomorrow or the day after you will have moved forward. because you and he were brave enough to say hello … both open enough to see something beautiful in a stranger.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. David says:

    ‘Encounter with stranger’ brings to mind several good hitchhiking experiences from another time in my life. However, they were not entirely random, since there is an implied openness on the part of the driver as well the hitcher to some kind of exchange, a permission to enter in.

    One sidewalk encounter with a complete stranger stands out in my mind as a great example. I was working on a project with a video camera when a man approached me and opened a conversation about his son who makes video, life in a small town, food and architecture.

    45 minutes later, I was in his room being offered tea. In that first, fast-moving conversation, I learned something of the childhood of this man, listened as he recited words by Rumi, a fellow countryman of his, and was offered more tea.

    Most importantly that day, I learned about the courage of hospitality. And the rewards to be discovered in risking acceptance.

    1. “the courage of hospitality” … well said!

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