On Transcending

Sue D. writes:

I’m enjoying your blog. I think meeting and talking with strangers is such a great idea! It’s lead to so many interesting encounters for you. I wonder if you consider your experiment a success, or if you even consider it an experiment anymore? It seems like you’ve transcended the original purpose for your blog and now it’s become just another part of your every day life.

That was an interesting question, one I’ve been thinking about for a few days now. And the answer is kind of complicated.

Yes, talking to strangers is second-nature in some ways now. When I go up to a counter and order a roast beef sandwich, I don’t have to remind myself that I should strike up a conversation. But one thing I’ve learned is I am who I am. Despite the now long history of doing this, I still don’t talk to strangers without effort. The second-nature aspect of it is that I don’t think about that I should be talking to them. It doesn’t get my all the way to actually doing it without thinking about it. So I guess, the point is, I’ve got a lot of practice but there’s a built-in inertia that must be overcome every time.

I do consider the experiment a success. Obviously, things turned out better than I ever imagined. It’s literally changed my life and I am happier than I’ve ever been. And maybe you’re right that it’s not even an experiment anymore anyway. It’s just something I do. Like, if you go on a diet where you cut out carbs, for example, and it’s successful. You lose the weight. You reach your target. But it’s changed your eating habits along the way and now you just eat healthier meals and stay away from carbs because you know they aren’t good for you. It’s no longer a diet because you’re not trying to lose weight anymore. Now, you’ve adopted a different lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean when you see a sticky bun you don’t crave it.

It’s weird. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I get into a meta-mode where I’m talking to someone just thinking about how I’m going to write this up later. It seems a little inauthentic at times, like I’m violating the spirit of the project. But ultimately, talking to strangers is talking to strangers. Mostly I don’t think too much about it. Some days I pass on opportunities. But I think I will continue the “experiment” forever. Partly just because I like being that person. But I have to admit–and I’m as far from superstitious as you get–part of me wants to keep it up so I don’t jinx myself and lose what I’ve attained.

 

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2 Responses to On Transcending

  1. Sue D. says:

    I’m honored that you answered my question. And I’m excited to see a link to my blog on your list! Now I’m going to be self-conscious about what I post on my page, which up to now has been nothing more than a glorified diary.

    I have problems meeting people too – it just doesn’t come naturally. There’s something in my psyche that makes it an almost traumatic experience. So much so that I forget the person’s name who I’m meeting almost immediately.

    I think it’s brave that you talk to strangers. I even tried it myself but chickened out at the last second. It felt like stepping off the high dive.

  2. Malcolm Grant says:

    Operating at a higher level, Antoine de Maximy travels the world with his strap-on camera to meet ordinary people and make friendships on the streets.

    Antoine travels from NYC to LA to meet americans (some bits in French but mostly English):

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