So I’ve been sitting in the Lima, Peru airport for a few hours waiting for my next flight in the morning to Iquitos. There’s a Starbucks that’s open all night! Why doesn’t the US do this? And they have free wifi. And so I can check email and send some messages (since no one I know back home is up at this early hour to chat with!). But what I’m most aware of is the people around me. The people at O’Hare in Chicago that I bonded with who exerted so much effort to bring down my price for my check on baggage. They didn’t need to go through all that extra effort, but they did, and in a way that seem effortless on their part. Then there were the people of the Toronto airport. Not too different and just as friendly. I had a great exchange with the clerk when I exchanged currency. She had just gotten engaged, and it showed enough to ask her about it, and she smiled at the thought someone found that special and important.
And now I’m in Lima, sitting at Starbucks, with Noga on one side who was on the plane with me and is returning home to Cusco in the morning. She knows about Blue Morpho tours and has been herself studying to be a trained ayahuasceros (a shaman trained in the use of ayahuasca). We exchanged a glance on the plane when we left Toronto, a glance that connected us, a glance I know was meaningful for me and felt was so from her. And we end up sitting next to each other in Starbucks. I just watched her belongings while she went to the restroom. I know she’ll do the same for me when need be. And it just began with a glance, direct eye contact, a meaningful connection. On the other side of me is Ali. We met when I sat down and asked how to connect to the wifi. Turns out I ended up helping him connect to it. And Ali is as all American as an athlete getting ready for a bike ride in Cusco could be. Turns out, because I asked, his father really liked Muhammud Ali and named Ali after him when he was born in the mid 70’s. He even gave me some Power Bars as long as I agreed to have my picture taken with them for his blog to show the company he’s working! He benefits by getting more to give, and I have a couple things to eat if I get in a pinch in a new place. And I watched his belongings when he went to the restroom. Hey, isn’t that what people who care do?
In all this, I share the fact that people are people. No matter where they are. No matter who they are. And within all of us is a deep seated need to connect, to be connected. I know people think it’s just natural for me to talk to anyone, and it is. But in the last number of years, I’ve always been very conscious I do so with a purpose. The purpose to me is simple…people connecting to people. People connecting to the reality that people care. Care to say hello. Care to give a deep meaningful glance right in the eyes where we bare the windows to our souls. My father was just like this. He could meet a stranger and make them feel like the most important person in the world. I sometimes wonder if I learned by watching him, or if it’s simply in my genes. Yet I know that even if it’s not…it can be learned. Anyone can learn it, and if I tell you I think we’re in a time in the world where it’s needed more than ever, I hope it will at least make you think about the next time you meet a stranger. For that matter, even one of your most intimates…your spouse…your child…your significant other…your parent.
The people of our world need connections to keep us going forward. Here I am a stranger in a strange land, yet I feel at home…because when it comes down to it…people are people!