Taking the time to listen to complete strangers.

What is it about talking to a complete stranger these days that makes the majority of people feel strange? Why is the stranger so different to us and why do we feel they don’t deserve our full attention and deepest respect?

All of us are broken people in one way or another. Yes, some may externalise it more and often present as irrational or even attention seeking. Is this true? Just because a person seems more broken than me does not mean its true? Frequently in my experience, the people who appear to have more raw emotions or irrational thoughts around things and responses to circumstances end up being able to hold a much more meaningful conversation.

I was riding my old 2005 Suzuki SV1000 the other day. It was a beautiful day and I decided to head down to a small coastal town like the one I live in about twenty kilometres away. It’s much quieter this time of year than the other coastal places including where I live. ( Peak season here now) IMG_0541It has a beautiful grassed section next to the beach and the ocean with some picnic tables. I parked my bike, this is the picture I took and decided to sit on one of picnic tables.

I was sitting there about ten minutes enjoying my sunshine and fresh air. The views and the serenity of it all make the experience sensational. I sit with a meditative mindset. Not zoned out from the world but just letting my mind and thoughts relax. I am not forcing any relaxation methods on myself or having any expectations. I just breathe gently and enjoy the moment. So many meditation methods that are offered these days. I have been reading the “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” I have found the meditation suggestions in here very helpful.

“The Buddha taught, 84,000 ways to tame and pacify the negative emotions, and in Buddism, there are countless methods of meditation. I have found three meditation techniques that are particularly effective in the modern world and anyone can practice and benefit from. They are using an object, reciting a mantra, and “watching” the breath.” p. 69

So a car pulls up near my motorbike and an elderly lady gets out and said, ” Would it bother you if my friend and I join you at the picnic table”? I said, “no problems at all.” In my mind, I was imagining, “I guess I won’t be sitting here long” now because my peaceful meditative mindset has been disrupted. The two elderly ladies proceed to unload the car with all their picnic supplies including a nice tablecloth.

They were eating and drinking and just enjoying the moment when one of them started to talk to me. One was older than the other and both noticeably were very close friends and it was evident they knew each other like sisters. Consequently, as the conversation deepened I realised they had known each other for years with no biological connections or marital associations.

These women jumped quickly into some spiritual inquiries about me and my life to date. One said, ” you are on a spiritual journey. “In my mind, “aren’t we all” however, I knew she was referring to my unusual life and journey in her experiences and perception of life and people. The older of the two discussed her deceased husband who was a medium and both met on a Yoga retreat. She was seventy-six and practice Yoga her whole life and had survived three husbands and left one. She also had children and was on holidays from the UK. The other after sharing her Irish heritage and involvements and thoughts around the Catholic church as a child and her dissatisfaction with all religious institutions. Disclosed an expressed very deep emotions surrounding her son who took his own life a couple years ago.

The ladys were lovely and great conversationist. I could write a whole blog just on the depth and engagement they offered me. I shared and disclose some deeply personal experiences and thoughts about my experience in religious institution and God. I also shared my current experience in my spiritual practices. I felt very comfortable around these women and they also expressed the joy they got from talking with me. I was going to leave at one point because I thought I may have been interrupting the time together. However, the older of the two said, ” where have you got to go to”? I said,”nowhere really.” So we all laughed and the conversation continued for about three hours.

The lady from the UK wanted my phone number and I offered my email which she confessed was of not much use. However, she asked if I would mind if she rang me some time to see what the next chapters in my life would be. I joked about stalking me, she laughed and said, “I am very interested in how your life unfolds.” Both ladies have travelled the world and experience loss and grief like all of us. However, they have a lovely relationship and I felt very privileged to be invited to their picnic and share some life stories.

This highlights the importance of being in the present moment and having a level of flexibility that involves others at times changing your expectations and ideas on how a day might unfold. I was not expecting such a life-giving conversations with two complete strangers. I was planning to just “be” Consequently, on reflection of the day I am so thankful for life’s experiences and the blessing each day can offer. The ladies were a blessing and provided a experience that was memorable and beautiful.

“Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj ~


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