I was sitting in Peet’s Coffee yesterday when an elderly gentleman came up to me and just started talking. I didn’t know him at all, but he was polite, coherent and had a great smile. Within 15 minutes I knew his “story”. Born in Cuba, raised in Belgium and moved to the states in the 60s. He raised his family in the Bay Area and has vacationed all over the world. He told me a bit about Cuba and his family. I know his uncle and parents lost all their possessions when Castro came to power. He said he went back a few years ago to visit, and while he absolutely loved the pristine white sandy beaches… he hated the poverty.
After he left, another young woman sitting nearby came over and asked me if I knew the gentleman? I said, “I do now”, and she laughed. She told me her name was Karen and that she thought it was awesome that I took the time to chat with him. I didn’t think what I did was so spectacular, but then remembered how often all of us, me included, get caught up in being busy and not making time for others in our life, perhaps even a stranger.
To make some new friends, slow down and just be willing to listen. In fact, to renew friendships, perhaps even with your spouse or other loved one, take the time to sit and just chat with them for just a little bit.
I also thought about this gentleman from Cuba… I’m sorry I didn’t even get his name. But I think he went away feeling good too. By telling his story, he gave vitality to his life story. By listening, I told him indirectly that his life mattered. Doesn’t everyone’s life matter?
All the best!
All the time!