Tomorrow morning I’m hopping on Amtrak to spend a day with my business partner, Tricia, who lives in Grass Valley. I’m reminded of the last time I took the train to see her, when I had a very extraordinary experience: I met someone.
When you think about it, meeting someone new is absolutely one of the most extraordinary experiences we can have in life. There are nearly seven billion people on earth. How many of them do we ever have the chance to meet? And when we do, how often do we really take the time to look ‘em in the eye and to sit down and hear their stories?
Really, when we take the time to meet someone, isn’t it always like a little rush of electricity? A jolt of vitality and energy? Well, it is for me.
Last time I took Amtrak, I headed straight for the Cafe Car to buy some instant oatmeal and a cup of joe. Sitting next to the counter was an elderly man in a jaunty green hat. His hat was covered in interesting looking buttons. Being a hat gal myself, I commented, “Great hat!” And then, because I was not running to catch a bus or rushing to pick my son up from school, or late for a meeting, I paused next to the man and said, “Tell me about those cool looking pins.”
The man smiled. Then he said, “I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world. These pins are souvenirs from many of the places I’ve been.” He told me some stories about some of the pins. He told me about the people he met along his travels. He told me about singing. He told me about his children. He told me that his name was Karl and I introduced myself, and sat down with him.
And while he was talking to me, the train was chug-chugging along, past marshlands and small towns and industrial areas. And while he was talking to me, I felt like we could have been in Austria or Spain or Switzerland. And while he was talking to me, I felt connected and alive and interested. And while he was talking to me, I felt more connected to all the other strangers on the train. And while he was talking to me, I realized that I was awake and alive in a wonderful way.
After we talked for a while, I got up to leave. I said, “Wow, I’m glad you wore that hat because it prompted me to talk to you.” He grinned and said, “I know. This hat is a chick magnet.”
Just one extraordinary human being out of nearly seven billion. Just one extraordinary moment of a lifetime. Makes me think how many more of these kinds of moments I might be having if I would just slow down a little and take the time to pause and notice who is sitting in front of me.