In 2016, I traveled more than 3200 kilometers by train visiting family and friends in France. This four week journey was multi-faceted on so many levels. Yet, the four individual days spent conversing with complete strangers sitting beside me on the train were a wonderful reminder of the power of in the moment connection.
We strive daily for true meaning and intimacy in our verbal exchanges, but we hesitate to share with those we frequently cross paths with in our neighborhoods and places of work. Why is that?
If we review all our conversations at the end of a typical day, even those with our loved ones, most of us will find that the contents of the latter tend to be superficial and habitual. There is something to be said about speaking with someone you most likely will not see again in this life time. The emotional protective armor is not needed, since no prior history can color the discourse with a stranger. Also, we are free to present all our thoughts, beliefs and experiences up to this point, which is a most welcomed opportunity in the telling for self-observation.
Within minutes and definitely after hours of conversation, the strands of humanity are woven between two complete strangers who, for a brief interval in day to day flow, have both the joy and courage to share themselves for the simple and powerful purpose of connection. There is no greater gift than that of validation and experiencing the sentiment of truly being heard by another.
Whether it is with a young Finnish documentary film-maker on his way to Italy or a mother and daughter duo, both lawyers and active humanitarians heading home to Alsace, the beauty of breaking the silence by speaking to a complete stranger cannot be over-emphasized.
It is a reminder that true connection is only one conversation away.