I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the people around us – the strangers passing us on the street or standing in line with us at the coffee shop – are our would-be friends, mentors and maybe even more, if we looked at it that way.
A few months ago, I flew to Cincinnati and Fort Lauderdale to direct a few photo shoots for work. The photographer and I arranged to meet in Fort Lauderdale, and I anticipated a week full of pleasant business formalities and conversation. We had met once before on an afternoon photo shoot in Denver, so I knew he was incredibly talented and professional; what I didn’t know, was that he would be one of the most sincere and genuine people I’d ever worked with. Over the course of a week, traveling from one city to the other, I heard stories of worldwide adventures and photo shoots, near-death experiences and family histories. He was one of the most inspiring and uplifting people I’ve ever met – and I hadn’t even seen it coming. Since then, I’ve looked at every day encounters – the ones we may anticipate the ordinary from, but which have the potential to be so much more – a little differently.
We never know when we’re about to meet someone who will change the course of our life. Even in little ways. I have met three of my best friends by randomly sitting next to them in arbitrarily selected classes. I showed up for dinner once in New York City and ended up walking home with a new roommate. Just last week, I stopped in a coffee shop for an afternoon latte and ended up with an invite to dinner, and went to spur-of-the-moment drinks on a weeknight and ended up meeting a new friend who has been helping me plan dinner party recipes and Saturday morning volunteering trips ever since.
The people around us – the ones we cross paths with at the gym or wait behind in the grocery store – could be our best friends, business partners, husbands or wives, and all from a simple hello or smile. They could even be the ones who need that hello or smile, more than we know. Seeing this in action recently has made me want to be a more present person, to look at the people in line instead of at my cell phone. It’s made me want to say yes more often, to accept the invite to go out when I otherwise would have been inclined to stay in. And it’s made me want to be more open to the possibility of how life has a way of working itself out – how the people we run into on any old Tuesday afternoon might be more than that, if we let them.
Here’s hoping we run into each other soon. : )
P.S. Speaking of strangers-turned-friends in the most unlikely of scenarios, one of my best friends has my exact same name (I’ll share that story another day) : ) and she also happens to have a beautiful blog that explores making one connection each week with a passerby. It’s fascinating, inspiring, and relates to this post on a grander scale. You can see it here.