According to most folks, strangers are dangerous and mysterious creatures to be wary of, but like everything else in life, that opinion is simply a matter of perception. Change your perception, and your reality changes! Personally, I have always been drawn to strangers, even as a little kid. Perhaps it was something to do with growing up with two judgemental parents who always thought I was “not normal” (Mother’s words). To me, my family members and friends were the ones who had seen me at my worst, judged me and found me wanting. My parents saw me having tanties and pissing and shitting my pants. Ex boyfriends saw what I look like first thing in the morning, they’ve witnessed stupid, drunk me puking into the toilet on a couple of occasions. One even bailed me out of police lock-up once! Friends have witnessed me bawling my eyes out for days on end after being dumped by those exes, being too depressed to get out of bed and bingeing on ice cream. Various doctors have seen….oh, jeez! Let’s not even talk about what THEY’VE seen! AAAWKWAAARD!!
….but strangers, those dear, sweet beautiful strangers are the people who, beyond what they see when they physically take that very first look at me, have no reason whatsoever to judge me and find me wanting. I see each stranger as the opportunity to press the reset button on my life and start again. The chance to have a do-over…and how many of us have wanted that chance from time to time?
I remember once at about the age of four, I decided to go see who lived next door? I knocked on the door and an old man answered and let me in. No fear, no awkwardness. Just good old-fashioned hospitality. I hung out with him in his house for a while, and whilst I don’t remember exactly what we did, I do remember a feeling of being exactly where I was supposed to be and feeling completely safe. It all seemed completely normal. I had a new friend! No-one was judging me and I remember having fun! As kids, we are so good at living without fear…but somehow that changes as we grow up. Fear either blasts us in the face or seeps in through the cracks of our consciousness when we least expect it. It is our job as grown-ups to recognise that fear for what it really is – False Evidence Appearing Real. ..or to quote the wonderful Mark Twain:
I have been through some terrible things in my life,
some of which actually happened.
So, my hope for the world today, is that more and more, we have the courage to look through that metaphorical security screen that we live our lives behind and see that the people outside of it are just the friends we haven’t met yet!
Next post, I will talk about how strangers are a traveller’s best friend, and what crazy and amazing experiences I have been lucky enough to have because of them! 🙂