My wife has never been shy about striking up a conversation with complete strangers. This is a habit that is mortifying to me. When I was a young child and my mother instructed me to be cautious about talking to strangers, she was preaching to the choir.
Life has been hectic as of late, so today we ventured out on a day trip to the Outer Banks. Naturally, we took the ferry. Just as naturally, my wife spoke to many people whom she did not know. Extroverts must have a secret signal that indicates they are available for a chat. Maybe it is a sixth sense, I don't know. But by some strange coincidence, to me anyway, each of those people seemed perfectly happy to engage in a dialogue with strangers. I must confess that I have never sustained any personal injury from any of these numerous experiences.
The irony of all this is that despite my predisposition to keep to myself among strangers, I generally find myself enjoying the exchange once I get over the initial shock. I suspect it is much the same as skydiving. Jumping out of the plane may take some serious willpower, but the rest of the trip is probably pretty exhilarating.
The outcome of today's adventure resulted in our meeting a neighbor of eleven years, who lives one quarter of a mile from us! That is embarrassing. We also met a photographer and a young couple on their one year anniversary. Among several others, we also had a delightful, and protracted, conversation with a German family that is here on vacation. The language barrier was only a minor issue.
So where am I going with this? Only this: I am convinced that people were created with the fundamental need for community. And sometimes we just need to put aside all other busyness to just go and directly interact with other people.
The second irony to this is that I am sharing this with you via a very impersonal form of communication. Go figure. Have we all lost our minds? I am determined to be more directly involved with the people in my life.