Conversations With Strangers

Primo Coffee in Huntington Beach and the Acai King Next Door.

I paced back and forth down the airport isles glancing into shops as I held my iPhone to my right ear.  After the pacing and the conversation stopped, I found myself alone in the Las Vegas Airport waiting to board my plane to Denver.  Blank time; blank space.  It’s amazing how unfilled space and time can be so difficult for us these days.  Silence and stillness are covered up with text messaging, scrolling through Facebook, posting to Instagram, or having private phone conversations in public places.  The space between us and others is getting bigger and bigger, but we don’t feel it.  We are determined to make the quiet spaces go away.  More anxiety ensues in the moments that we can’t fill with busy fidgeting or too much chatter.

This social change frightened me, so I adjusted my solo engagement differently these days.  I practiced not getting caught up in the anxiety of standing in an open area alone and feeling lonely.  Those thoughts of people staring at you or your unconscious need to keep your hands busy.  Pause. Just stand and take in the strangers around you.  These acts were getting more and more comfortable with practice.  I recall the first time, standing in line at Panera Bread; waiting for my coffee.  Just making myself stand, no phone in my hand, no one with me.  Just completely alone with strangers and myself. I felt ridiculously.  I felt alone; I scrambled to find a place for my hands; I moved around like I was choreographing a new dance.  It’s interesting to feel yourself in this kind of open space.  We live in a busy world full of ways to remain introverted, even when around a bunch of people.

These days I don’t fidget around like I have to pee.  You will get there too.  Practice being comfortable with the discomfort.  I still practice all the time.  It will get easier and easier.

Part of this concept was instituted by a book I just read.  In his book, Get the Guy, Matthew Hussy makes an extremely valid “life” point.  He talks about opportunities.  First, these opportunities begin as a way to engage with strangers.  He expressed how one should engage in a conversation.  This alleviates the strangeness of talking to those we don’t know, but it also opens opportunities to meet new people.  I can not tell you how many times this action has led to amazing conversations with strangers.  I have learned so much, networked for business, had insightful conversations, and just been in community with my fellow humans.  It has been eye-opening.  The later part of Mr. Hussey’s ideas are to address the issue of dating.  Opportunities to open your smile and yourself up to possible suitors.  The main idea being, how do we have the opportunity to meet possible dating partners, if we have such blinders on to the connections around us?  We are constantly looking down at our smart phones and feel anxiety to keep our attention distracted at all times.  We are disengaged people in a hyper world.

Now back to the airport, so there I am, just standing in this space.  There happened to be two gentleman about my age in the area next to me.  Because I am not contained in my own world, I can not help but be in-tune to theirs.  I can’t help but begin to giggle after five minutes of overhearing them.  They were in a deep conversation about types of pillows and the delivery to sleep; luxury, style, make, and model.  I looked over and said, “I am so sorry, but your conversation about pillows is so intense and so passionate that I can’t help but laugh.”  This conversation starter yields an even longer conversation with one of the gentlemen through the whole flight.  Turns out these rad dudes, Severan and Tyler, are owners in this cool record business: Vinyl Me, Please.  It is exciting to meet mew people.  You never know what you can learn and take in from conversations with strangers.  I think we can learn something about society deficits that continue to get bigger.  Set an intention each day to talk to a stranger.  Encourage yourself to do rest your hand of fidgeting.  Create just a little bit more wonder in a world loosing all its genuine quality and succumbing to impulsivity and immediate.  Take in the world around you and be open to the idea of meeting someone who may spark something new.

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