I have always been a magnet for conversations that have been unsolicited. Sitting on a park bench, waiting for a bus a train or just waiting in line at the grocery store, folks tend to open up to me about the strangest things; and sometimes, quite frankly, the folks themselves are strange.
When I have been on the receiving end of these discussions, My “fight or flight” sense would be on red alert…and most times I would smile and nod politely while screaming in my head, “Holy crap! Get me outta here!”
Yet, as I age, I have started to realize, I have missed opportunities to hear stories. Some really good ones. I’m not saying that I have allowed my red alert warning to wane, but I have started to learn when it would be safe to add to the discussion and when it is just better to keep my ipod ear-buds in.
Case in point; my airplane jaunts last week for BlogHer. I decided that I was going to try my best to step out of my comfort zone and strike up conversations with people I only knew through my computer screen. “Smile and say hello” was my motto. If you were to look at my hands, you would have seen how nervous I was by the squeezing of fingers. I thought the best way to “walk the talk” was to start on the plane.
Why the plane? Because I never talk to the person next to me on a plane. Nev-er. As soon as the bird is in the air, my ear buds go in and I try to sleep. Unless of course I am sitting next to my kids or husband. Then they get an earful of chatter until they say “I’m going to sleep.”
This time would be different. I was going to be open to the discussion.
I met a psychologist who works with patients that suffer from schizophrenia and how she helps their families cope with the disease. She was also a three year survivor of Stage 3 Breast Cancer. Our kids were the same age, so we shared common issues with school, friends, and typical teen attitudes. We talked about our feelings being women in our 40′s and how much we are enjoying this moment in our lives. She shared some very interesting facts about drug use and the effect it has on the teen brain development. Before I knew it, the plane was landing and I was sad our time had come to an end. She was a fascinating person.
On the way home, I met a lovely woman from across the aisle. She had much loss in her life recently, and had just finished handling her parent’s estate. She was on her way to visit her lifelong friend for a month of relaxation, something she was really looking forward to. I learned she was a retired school secretary, was the proud mom to a single child, was once very tall but suffered from osteoperosis. We talked about our favorite foods, places we have seen in our travels. She was absolutely stunning.
These stories would have been lost had I not taken the chance to welcome them. I am proud that I chose to keep my ear-buds packed and allowed myself to grow a little.
This post is part of the Just. Be. Enough Monday link-up!! I hope you will come by to link up your favorite “me” moment and be open to the stories that others are sharing today and every Monday.