Conversation is becoming a lost art. People pass each other like shadows in the night, absorbed in their small worlds. We seldom listen to the stories that people have to share about their lives. We have little time for family and friends and rarely do we risk speaking to strangers.
Growing up in a small midwestern farming community, we left our doors unlocked and our cars running when we went to the post office. Everybody knew everyone else and rarely did we meet a stranger. Our conversations were filled with stories, gossip and laughter.
Yet, today I live in a much different world. I lock the doors of my car even when it sits in my driveway and I always lock the doors of my house even when I am home. And most of the people I meet are strangers and rarely do we speak.
Life is about the relationships we develop with family, friends and even strangers on the paths that we choose to travel. Some of the best conversations that I have had in my life have happened on an airplane with someone I had never met and will never encounter again.
With strangers, we often open up and share our stories in ways that we do not with family and friends. We know that the strangers are passing through our lives and that it is unlikely that we will meet again. When we listen to stories of strangers, there is so much we can learn about the world and the people that inhabit it. We will often find that we are alike and have much in common.
Listening to the stories of others can spark our creativity and make us better writers and artists. Something they say may plant a seed that will grow and bear fruit. Something they say may free us from the chains that bind our thinking. Listening to the stories of strangers will give us small moments of pleasure and joy.