Strangers: Friends You Haven’t Met Yet?

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Humans of New York (HoNY), which is a popular website, Facebook page, and book. The creators and writers of HoNY walk around, interview people, and share their stories. They have shown the world that each person is not just another face in the crowd, but an individual with a story. A life. Blessings and sufferings. Hardships and joy.

I recently saw a video that sparked some thoughts on “strangers” and how we react to other humans we don’t know yet.

My heart was warmed when I watched this video….check it out below.

Are strangers just friends that you haven’t met yet?

I think there are so many times that we get this sort of tunnel-vision and focused on our life, busyness, and hardships that we face. And yet we don’t always notice the person that is walking right along with us or past us on the street every day and that they too are also a human facing many of the same things that we are.

This video also reminded me of another video I had seen several years ago that had this direct purpose in mind: to make you think about your interactions with people.

So how do you treat strangers in your everyday business?

Would you hug a stranger?    🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Thoughts on a Small Town

I went on a run the other day. It’s amazing the deep thoughts your brain comes up with while your lungs gasp for oxygen, your legs have lost feeling, and you’ve lost all touch with the world. There were some things I noticed around the neighborhood as well as some reoccurring thoughts that I’ve been having recently and those two events, the things and the thoughts, meshed together to form a whole new idea. Allow me to elaborate.

I live in a small(ish) town. There are cities larger but towns smaller so I’m not sure what you might call it. (Village? Township?)

It’s a regular small-town-America place. Everyone seems to know everyone and the most interesting thing which seems to happen is Farmer Brown’s chickens getting loose and causing a traffic jam on 1st Avenue. (A bit of an exaggeration but you get the point).

In a way I grew up in this atmosphere. I’ve lived all sorts of places but where I currently reside is where I call home and where I have called home for the past 8-10 years (I lose count…sorry).

I’ve just come back from attending university in a city (of sorts), where everything you could possibly think of is no more than 20-30 minutes away. Department stores, restaurants, parks, hotels, you name it, and it’s probably there.

I’ve been missing that a lot. The hustle and bustle of life in the city. The constant surging of a large, high concentration of human population running, driving, walking around going about their day to day business in the high rise buildings and the department stores. The impulse of human energy just constantly moving.

As I was running, these thoughts continued to run along with me through my mind. Then something happened that changed my outlook completely.

A man was sitting on his porch as I ran by. He smiled and waved. I returned both. He said, “Good evening, how are you?” I replied, “Wonderful, thank you” (in a dying, breathy sort of way). Then I realized I had been horribly wrong in my thinking.

Life isn’t about the busyness, the high rise buildings, the BMWs, or the designer labels. It’s not about what the highest level of education you can receive. It’s not about the best job you can get. It’s not about how much money you can make. It’s not about how many places you’ve visited around the world.

Life is about people.

Life is about people. People have been around for thousands and thousands of years and we have created the things that we crave most in a city atmosphere.  How selfish and misguided am I to say that I miss the city life because I miss the energy and material possessions?

That’s what makes my lovely little town so beautiful. The people.

The friendly waves. The small chatter about the weather. The bonds that hold the families tight. The silly problems that keep the petty family feuds alive. The down-to-earth conversations you can have with almost anyone. Walking into the coffee shop and knowing most of the people in there. The lessons people teach you about life. Their simplistic view of life. Their smiling eyes and warm handshakes.

These are the things I love the most about people and life.

I wouldn’t give that up for all the cities in the world.

To Musicians and Performers…

From the time you walk onto the stage to the time you walk off, you have a series of moments.

A moment to connect with the listener.

A moment to express the meaning behind the text or tones of your song.

A moment to let the listener in to experience the emotion and experiences behind the song.

A moment to show a bit of your personality.

A moment to have a little fun.

A moment to impress with your incredible musical talent.

A moment to impact someone’s life in a meaningful way.

Take each moment and run with it.

The Young and the Elderly

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 As a pastor’s son, I have the opportunity to go with my father on many visits to those in the hospital and elderly people that do not get out much. As I sit and listen to these people talk, my eyes wander around their room. Most elderly folk’s homes have antiques and glass decorations of all kinds. Pictures of grandchildren and great grandchildren adorn many of the walls and mantles of these people.

Not long ago I went to drop off something at the house of an elderly lady. She is moving and is having a yard sale to get rid of most of the things she won’t have room for. These items were spread across tables, counters, chairs and anything that had room to hold something.

Looking over these I realized that here, sitting before me was a lifetime of memories and experiences all in one house. Each item had its own story and special memory to this person.

My thoughts wandered to how many experiences and situations this particular lady had gone through. Then I broadened it to the older generation. How many stories do they have to tell? How much wisdom do they have to grant us?

I recall a time when I was at a nursing home a few years ago for a small music concert myself and a few others my age put on for them. I got to talking to an older gentleman and he mentioned that he had been in a World War (I cannot remember the exact one, but I am guessing World War II as most veterans of World War I are no longer living).

This immediately piqued my interest. I inquired of him where he had served and what it had been like. He replied that he served in France and went on to describe how he remembers the enemy was throwing gas canisters at him and his comrades and they were forced to put on gas masks. He went on to describe other details.

This was rather intriguing so I asked him a question concerning the war. He answered it and went right back to the beginning describing the gas warfare. I was saddened to see that he was starting to lose some of his memory, but I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with him nonetheless.

All of this made me realize how much the older generation has to offer the younger. Think about it. What if the older generation passed on its experiences on life, choices they’ve made, and what to avoid? I believe the human race as a whole would benefit so much more if the older and younger generations could “compare notes” so to speak.

You may be thinking right now, “well why hasn’t the older generation been sharing with the younger?” This is a very good question.

My thought is for one, the younger generation is stubborn and ignorant. It always has been and always will. Who are those older folk to tell us how to live our lives? But on the other side of the spectrum, the older generation may think (and this is just speculation) that they don’t have anything to offer or they are just bitter and see young “whippersnappers” as ignorant and wild beings with no care for anything. While this is partially true, there are many of us that would love to benefit from the wisdom of the elderly.

I guess the moral of all of this is, if you are young like me, the next time you see an older person you know (or don’t), ask them questions. Many times they are very glad to talk to you. Break the stereotype that is set on us and discuss with them what their life has been like. You may learn a thing or two.

If you are one of those that are in your later years, bestow on us your wisdom. You have so much to tell, so many stories. You have lived through great technological and culture changes and we would love and need to hear all about all of this. Some of us that are more stubborn may not  want to listen.

As for me, I will sit down and listen to anything that would enlighten me to the fact of what secrets exist inside your minds.