Pull up a chair
and tell me your story,
a friendship we will christen.
For your tale and mine
if we take the time to listen.
Several years ago, I decided to do something that my parents always told me NEVER to do when I was a child.
I decided to start talking to strangers. You see,
I had built a fortress around my heart,
day by day,
year by year, brick by brick,
until I couldn't feel what it was like to be me anymore.
Moving through the rhythm of my days,
blocking out the things I thought might wound me,
but also holding in
the fullest expression of myself.
I realized that I was having all of these interactions with people who share my city, my community and barely making eye contact or moving the conversation beyond the essential. You know the one:
How can I help you?
Small coffee please.
Have a great day!
I stopped my autopilot.
It felt risky the first time I looked a barista in the eyes and asked him how he was. He gave me a strange look as he responded, “I’m sorry, you caught me off guard because you asked me that like you actually meant it.”
Some people I only saw once. Still they made an impression on me that would last. Others have become dear friends. I noticed how opening my heart allowed others to do the same with me. Over time, talking to strangers—this behavior that was so outrageous for me at first—transformed my world of transactions into one of shared stories. I experienced how our stories connect us. And I thought maybe that’s what allows us to feel the heart of another human being, as we hear our own story reflected in theirs.