A couple weeks ago, I went on vacation with my cousin. We spent a few days in New Orleans before renting a car and slowly making our way to Memphis. Other than the joy of being reunited with one of my all time favorite people, the food (those shrimp Po’ boys and bread pudding!!!) and the thrill of discovering new places, I was delighted by all the serendipitous encounters we made along the road. Travel is a wonderful platform through which to achieve something I aspire to in all aspects of my life: to make the ordinary unknown, to experience each moment with a beginner’s mind. There is a very peculiar type of freedom that comes from travelling; a sort of exchange between the physical bags one packs and the metaphorical baggage one leaves behind. Routines are disrupted, assumptions questioned, awareness and empathy are reinvigorated as experience is made fresh. As travelers, we are more open to other people, more interested in their stories, and they, in turn, are more open to ours.
I’ve been back in New York for two weeks now and have noticed that what I had left behind is quickly settling back in. I long for those in-between moments of connection and story sharing that kept occurring throughout our trip, but my assumptions about what it means to talk to strangers are quickly taking back their turf. And the truth is that it can actually be quite difficult, in the course of our daily lives, to find strangers who are willing to exchange moments for the sake of exchange, with no “ulterior motives.” There is the occasional chance encounter in coffee shops and parties but often, as an adult, I find that most opportunities of meeting strangers are weighed down by expectations of romantic interest or professional networking.
While I’m always happy to talk about creativity, design, learning, play, empathy and cognition till the sun comes up, what I would really like is to share stories and moments with you, the ones that stand out in Technicolor tones in our memories. I want to know about the softness of your grandmother’s hands, the dent left in the pillow by your sleeping cat, the time you got lost in the woods.
Admittedly, this may be cheating a bit because if you’re reading rethinked …* we’re not complete strangers. But here is what I propose: let’s do an experiment in engineering serendipity, let’s share our stories and a moment on a gorgeous summer afternoon. Let’s meet up and go on an adventure, let’s get lost in an unknown part of town or go for a stroll in the park. If you’d like to set up a serendipity playdate with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m also going to go park myself this coming Wednesday (July 2nd) from 12:30 to 4:00 pm at Café Lalo on 201 West 83rd St (btw. Amsterdam and Broadway). If you’re in New York and have some free time, stop by, say hello, stay awhile.
Let’s share tea & stories …*