Every now and then, people comment on my ability to talk to strangers.
It’s funny to call this an ability because anyone can do this as soon as they choose. To me, it’s not a skill, it’s just a decision.
But if I was asked to pinpoint the moment I started to develop this “ability”, it was when I observed the “Vacation Phenomenon” and decided to apply it’s core principle to my life on a daily basis.
The day I started to apply this technique, I became a happier person.
To understand fully, I’ll explain my personal experience with the phenomenon here:
I was once in Orlando and saw someone wearing a sweatshirt from my hometown, so I walked up to them and started a conversation. I’ve seen this person hundreds of times before but I never said anything.
We were thousands of miles away from that little town but I was now enthusiastically walking up to talk to him with cheer in my eyes.
Was that sweatshirt a sense of comfort? A bond of commonality? Because he was on the same vacation, does that mean he wasn’t a crazy person? How was I able to have such a positive interpretation of seeing this person? Why did I automatically trust him more than everyone else I saw on this particular trip?
There’s 20,000 people in my hometown. Why does being in a far away land make me care so much about seeing one of them?
Regardless, it was a pleasant conversation. Nothing particularly exciting resulted from this encounter besides the that fact that I say “Hi” to that person when I see him now.
The reason I am speaking about this moment to this day is that it made me look at human interaction through a different scope.
I was a teenager when this happened, but I observed the scenario carefully and I remember asking myself this question: What if everyone always acted as if we were on the same vacation. But instead of Orlando, our destination was is earth. Our trip lasts roughly an average 70-90 years, give or take the amount of fast food trips one makes. And when it’s over, we take the first flight home and hopefully it doesn’t involve any lengthy layovers.
When in this vacation mindset, we don’t need to be best friends with everyone we see. We don’t need to trust everyone we see. We don’t need to change our core beliefs. But maybe with this approach we can challenge ourselves to offer a little more warmth to the world.
After all, this is once in a lifetime trip.
Instead of condemning what makes us different, let’s celebrate that which brings us together. Let’s continue to discover our individual uniqueness, but collaborate in ways to bring out the best in our fellow man or woman.
Maybe we wouldn’t flick off people in traffic jams. Maybe we would say “Hello” to strangers in passing. Maybe we wouldn’t write nasty comments on social media. Maybe we would enjoy the human condition instead of avoiding it at all costs.
Besides our where we live, we can usually relate to A LOT of the same things. We little humans are more alike than we’re different: We breathe air. We eat food and drink to survive. We need shelter. We love some people. We don’t love some people. Puppies are cute. Pizza is delicious. And deep down, we all want to smile and be happy. All basic things. But all pretty consistent.
Try it out. The next person you talk to, pretend you’re in Barbados or somewhere weird and see how it goes.
Maybe it it doesn’t work for you.
But, maybe, just maybe, it turns out to be pleasant.
And if it does, I hope you enjoy your vacation and it brings new exciting personalities into your world. You don’t need frequent flyer miles and you don’t need a suitcase. You don’t need to wait all year for that one week of escape.
But you can bring that warmth to your very experience on an everyday basis.
And when you get there, please just remember to send me a cheesy postcard and a picture of yourself wearing a sweatshirt from your hometown.