“I feel very strongly that I’m surrounded by other realities.” —Ingmar Bergman
I have this theory about strangers. My theory is this: No one is really a stranger.
When we don’t recognize a person, we tend to label them as strangers. When we get on the bus or the plane or the train, we tend to believe that we are surrounded by “strangers”, but this is so far from the truth. Have you ever felt attracted by a stranger? Has a stranger ever felt attracted by you? How do you describe that? What does it mean in the vastness of things?
I believe we are all connected. Connected by an undercurrent of energy. We are all souls, we all come from the same source. We all knew each other once. In fact, we still do. No encounter is random, nothing is by chance. I have this strong feeling that the girl I’m noticing outside of my peripheral vision is not a coincidence, neither is the magnetism. I want to go up to her and say something, but what? After all, I’m just a stranger. But there’s something in her eyes, in her demeanor, in the way she slants her back against the wall and rubs her wrists that tells me to approach her. I just met this girl five seconds ago on the metro. I don’t know a thing about her, yet I know her. I feel her. I sense her… but for the life of me I can’t gather up the courage to talk to her because… what if this is all in my head? What if her supposed sadness is nothing but a projection? What if she really is… just a stranger?
“My theory is – we don’t really go that far into other people, even when we think we do. We hardly ever go in and bring them out. We just stand at the jaws of the cave, and strike a match, and ask quickly if anybody’s there.” —Martin Louis Amis
This happens to me at least ten times a day. I feel like I’m missing out on connections. On friends. On stories. On people. On growth. On discovery.
Every day I find myself so close but so far from another soul.
She waited for the train to pass. Then she said, “I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.”
― Haruki Murakami
Maybe I am focusing too much on the superficial. Maybe we were never meant to interact. Maybe we were always meant to remain flooded by a pool of strangers. Maybe no matter how much we try, we can never ever really get to know a person. Maybe the next time we meet a stranger, we can just smile and continue on our way.
I try to do subtle service for these souls. I have warm and well wishes for them. I try to find a way to honor my connection without breaking the balance because i think considering a person a stranger is a distance we create. The moment you meet someone, we close off the distance that separates us. Have you ever noticed how you can meet someone today and all of a sudden you recognize them on the street? You might’ve never noticed them before. So, in a lot of ways, the distance is necessary and healthy.
Think of a celebrity. Do you think a celebrity knows all their fans by name? It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s just because we can’t. We can’t know everybody. Not in that way. Not in the way we know our mother, our brother or our lover.
But we can connect with them. All we need is to use our minds. To send a gracious, kind, powerful and positive thought their way. That is our undying well of wishes.
I wrote a poem when I was 15 I think and it had to do with this topic. I don’t remember it well but there’s a line a wrote that I always remember from time to time. It said:
I sprinkled my heart across the sea, now everybody has a little piece of me.
It’s true that this modern technology world is disconnecting us (I encourage you to watch the video in the link). It’s true that everyone sticks their headphones on and shut the world out. Crowded areas like airport terminals, subway stations and bank lines are the loneliest places to be… because you are surrounded by humans but practically invisible to them.
Is this the world we want to live in? Is this the future we envision?
What can you do today to create a change?
To live in a more connected, compassionate, loving, caring, aligned and centered world?
PS – Happy Belated MLK Day (he should be constantly celebrated so that’s what I do)