I have spent many hours aboard planes and normally I build myself a fort and hide in the little space I claim at my seat. Sometimes a friendly smile will sit down beside me and, although I have something to read or watch and my pillow and face mask and headphones, my personal protective gear, is at the ready, I find myself in delightful conversation with a perfect stranger.
Everybody has a story. Listening to that story makes both of you happier.
I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “Talking to Strangers” and learning a lot about what bad judges of character we are as human beings, for both better and worse. So, on my flight yesterday, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to me to see what story he had to tell. What a fascinating story he shared, complete with pictures, of having been to Africa to spend time with his girlfriend. He was so obviously in love and so desperate to be living in the same place as she was, where ever that would be around the world, that I was moved and began to wonder how I could possibly help.
We talked about travel and time and distance and compared airports and hotels that we had experienced and the time we traveled moved quickly. Before I knew it, I had reached my destination and, even though I had had very little sleep, I felt rejuvenated by his excitement and anticipation of a wonderful life with the perfect partner.
In Hawaii, they call it “Talking Story” and it is embedded in the culture of the Maritimes where I will be spending more time over the coming years and I am encouraged. People are weird. Their stories can be uplifting or very, very sad. Even so, they take us to places we have never been, through experiences we have never had and they enrich our world.
Talk to strangers…