Greetings from Boston !
I am flying to Boston and onward to Asheville for Retreat 2 of my leadership program. The last 10 hours in the air has had me reflect on a few things. I have been observing myself and others at the airport and on the flight now; I realize that I haven’t had a real conversation with any new people yet. Most of the interactions have been skimming on the surface, a lot of them transactional.
I am on seat 17D. The seat next to me is empty, there’s a lady in 17F. It’s been 10 hours into the flight and I haven’t had a conversation with her yet. I briefly helped her with the entertainment system because she wasn’t familiar with it. I also noted from this brief interaction with her that i had trouble following her accent. She is …………………………………
I was trying to describe her here and then realized it would all be speculation. So I took a break from my typing, just struck a conversation with her for a bit. Her name is Alice, she is in her 70’s, she is from Zimbabwe, flying to Boston for the first time. She is going to be visiting her daughter and is excited to be there for the next few months. Strange, this time I understood when she spoke.
Those few minutes of conversation with her and then describing her to you, suddenly made her real and human to me. Up until now she was a old lady on seat 17F who dint know how to work the entertainment system. I notice that now I feel warmer towards her, I looked at her face and into her eyes and SAW her.
Every person we meet, every face we see, there is something beyond what we see. There is a story there, I wonder what her story is.
Some of us are great at first interactions. I know a certain someone who could pick up a conversation with just about anyone, on just about any topic under the sun. That takes a lot of passion, passion to connect & get know people and openness to new experiences.
And then there are some of us, who find it comfortable to connect with people we find something common with, same age, origin, culture, background, interests, profession etc. For the most part of my life I had been like this.
I wonder why we switch on to a different mode in certain situations, like when we meet people on a flight, in the elevator, or at the supermarket. We suddenly have these masks on, our posture changes, our expressions are more controlled. What stops us from being real in the moment ? What kind of situations have that impact on you ?
Why do we hold on to ourselves or guard ourselves so close when we are around new people. What stops us from connecting from the heart. What are we afraid of? Is it from the assumption that getting real also means getting personal ?
Every new person we meet, is life presenting us with the opportunity of new experiences. So if we can briefly suspend our beliefs, ideas and assumptions about life and keep ourselves open to such interactions, we would open out and stretch our inner world and outer worlds.