Yesterday I took my dogs to the vet to update the few vaccinations they needed. In the process, I was reminded of how quickly we can learn pieces of another person’s story. In a short amount of time I learned when my vet was born, when her mom was born, when her mother died and the cause of her mom’s death. In the same amount of time, she also learned this about me. And, yes, we also conversed about the typical things you discuss while in the vet’s office…those furry friends you have in tow.
This exchange reminded me that even though I may not know someone, hearing a piece of their story “humanizes” them. So often, all it takes is hearing one detail and your heart immediately cracks open. The “stranger” no longer feels like a total stranger to you.
A week or so ago my family and I went to see the local soccer team play. As we took our seats, my son bumped into a boy that he had met for the first time the day before at soccer camp. Within five minutes this new friend had scooted himself over next to Sean and they ended up watching the entire 90 minute match together. I listened to them share their likes and dislikes with one another. I listened as they shared pieces of their story. I listened as they swapped cell phone numbers.
I love how effortlessly kids connect. Part of me thinks they’re better at it than most adults. They seize moments much better than grown ups. In contrast, other than a head nod, a quiet hello, and a few swapped smiles, never once did I scoot down to the other side of the bleacher to talk to this young boy’s parents.
I wonder what beauty slipped by unnoticed by not doing this?
Maybe none. Maybe the exchange would have simply been a polite, superficial, “it sure is hot out here tonight” kind of conversation.
Or, maybe…this unseized moment contained pieces of stories that crack open hearts.
Today, I’m challenging us to embrace the awkwardness and the inconveniences that often come with getting to know strangers that cross our paths. Maybe it’s as simple as scooting down to the other end of the bleachers.