I’ve been reminded recently how much I like talking to strangers.
I know there are some of you who will not relate to this sentiment, who loath the customers that strike up conversations, the neighbors who pop over to say hello, the events that drain your introverted energy dry with all of the talking. I know you, and I love you. But most of the time, I can't relate.
I'm not referring to merely chit-chatty small talk pleasantries - these I do find draining. I'm talking about those moments when I find myself in an interesting and engaging conversation with a person I barely know.
When the hairdresser tells me about her Bible-reading plan. When I have C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity on my lap and the old timer sharing my bench asks what I'm reading. When I find myself in the "deep end" of mental illness and discipleship and gender expectations with a fellow stranded passenger in an airport waiting area. When we discover a shared interest or passion and the words tumble as we volley ideas.
I leave these moments energized. They fuel my creativity. They sharpen my mind.
I'm still trying to figure out why. I think part of it is the reality that I have no inkling where their thought processes - and therefore their comments - are going to go. I don't know how their brains work. I don't know their experiences or emotional responses. I'm not familiar with their facial expressions. I don't know what they know or where they've been. With friends, I have at least some sort of framework to know what to expect. With a stranger, the field is wide open.
I think one of the other reasons I find these moments so delightful is that they're unexpected. I never know when I'll stumble into one. When I'll leave with my heart smiling and my mind abuzz with our conversation. When I'll want to rush back to my notebook and write everything down before it eases from my memory.
So I'll continue to keep my eyes open. Because you never know when a stranger might just become a friend.