The other day I had two interactions with individuals that are the type of events that I try and remember when things get shitty.
The first was up at my favorite coffee shop where I’m a regular and known by a small hoard of other regulars. One individual stopped me on my way to a table, his name is Clark and we have had a number of conversations over the last several years on history, literature and a bit on the state of the world around us. We don’t share politics so I try and stay away from that potential minefield. He was a school superintendent and college professor and yesterday he was 80 years old. He stopped me with a hand on my arm and as I looked down he handed me a Clark Bar, his gift to his friends at the coffee shop to commemorate his 80th birthday. As I sit here today and recall his small gesture I can’t help but be grateful for the remarkable people I’ve met and the experiences they have shared with me. They have certainly added a spice to my life that would have been missing if I had been unable to overcome my fear of opening up to strangers.
The second took place as I sat by Lake Louise reading a book. I looked up as an elderly man jogged by. I smile as he went by and he returned the smile as he passed. About 10 minutes later he has circled the lake and as he passed this time I shouted, “looking good.” Then about 10 minutes later here he comes again, this time he stops at my car and we have a wonderful conversation. He introduces himself as Andrew and tells me he is 70 years old, we talk of his running, 3 1/4 miles in a bit over 30 min, not bad at 70. He goes on to say that he does it to help deal with the sadness from the death of his wife earlier this year. His eyes got misty as he said how lucky they were to have had each other for almost forty years. We talked about family and the weather and my looking for work.
All in all it was an extraordinary conversation with a stranger who is longer a stranger by simple chance.