I was on a train in the Netherlands last week completely absorbed in reading Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. I became aware of a voice from a fellow passenger, ‘fascinating but not what it might appear, that book’ said the man, he had dark brown eyes which twinkled with curiosity.
‘I agree,’ I said, mindful of the book’s message about strangers but also that I have had some extraordinary conversations with people I don’t know over the years, some of which have stayed with me forever and some have been life-changing.
The interlude was short, as the train was just pulling into Schiphol station, which was where I was to disembark.
‘Despite what he says’, he nodded towards the book, ‘I believe there’s light in the heart of every stranger,’ he smiled. ‘Safe travels’.
As I walked towards the airport his words stayed with me, a reminder that it’s not what we look at, it’s what we see.
The world has recently been rather discombobulated and perhaps more fraught than usual with challenge and uncertainty, albeit mixed with moments of joy and optimism. How we deal with it can sometimes be down to the angle from which we view it.
Life is unpredictable and will bring obstacles and heartaches, embracing them and moving on when we wish they hadn’t happened is tricky. Nothing is permanent, everything changes, and of course, a lot of things can happen that utterly transform who we are and have an impact on our lives.
When we cultivate accepting where we are, we’ll likely cope far better with future hurdles, in a different way and from a different perspective – i.e. we will accept rather than resist.
Acceptance enables us to move forward and resistance generally causes more tension, and doesn’t.
As we look towards a New Year and perhaps metaphorically decide what to clear away and leave in 2019 and what to take into the new decade – we can choose to accept and see the positives (however small) – and of course seeing light in the hearts of strangers, an added festive bonus. Who knows who you might meet!
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a very happy, joyful and healthy New Year.