I love talking to strangers… well, I love talking to people period. And this includes people I’ve known and loved for a long time and total strangers in the street, behind the cash register, and even driving in the car next to me while stuck in traffic.

And yet, as I walked to Starbucks this morning at 6am, the streets were empty and every so often, I would pass someone. Sometimes they would easily turn to me, smile and say “Good morning”. But more often, they would make an effort to look the other way and not make connection.

The strange thing is that it takes extra effort to NOT make contact with someone close to you. Those other people definitely saw me. They were aware of where I was. They knew exactly when I was going to pass them. The most natural, magnetic response would be to simply turn towards each other and smile. This would complete the “humans coming close to each other” experience. But instead, extra effort is made to keep separate and pretend that we didn’t see each other.

Imagine. We are actually spending energy to pretend that we didn’t see each other.

Love Is Connection

Love is essentially how humans connect with each other. We are magnetic beings. We naturally connect. And this connection is what we call love.

The foundation of all loving connection was called agape by the ancient Greeks. It can be translated as “God’s love for us” or “love through God’s eyes”. Essentially it when we look at another human being (whether we know them or not) and we notice that we are the same. We recognize that we are all on a journey and none of us can truly understand the other person’s path. We respect that each of us are making the best choice that we can based on our life’s experience, karma, ancestral inheritance, etc. And because we give this other person the same respect that we desire, we are kind to them. We are gentle and understanding.

This is agape. It is the foundation of all love and connection.

From here, if we truly become friends and confidantes, then we develop philia love – literally “brotherly love”. This is where you share deep truths, you “have each other’s back”, and you have a true friendship.

Beyond that, you may share eros – passionate, romantic love.

But both of these loves are based on the foundation of agape. Without agape, neither of these loves can truly exist in their purest, most beautiful forms.

[There is a much deeper discussion of these loves in my book Tantric Intimacy: Discover the Magic of True Connection.]

Agape & Talking to Strangers

It is agape that we develop and share when we talk to strangers.

If we walk down the street and simply look at someone in the eyes and say “Hello”, a connection is made, even if it ever so slight. This other person realizes that they are not alone. They were seen and recognized by another person. This is incredibly important to our self-worth and mental health.

Loneliness and separation are rampant now. There are many people who literally never talk to anyone. They order everything they need on their computer and have it delivered. They chat with people online. They slowly become their own universes.

Imagine someone who struggles with going out of their home or struggles with talking with others. Maybe they have been abused and for good reason don’t trust others. Maybe they have always been incredibly shy and feel awkward around others. Maybe they have just moved here and don’t speak the language and are away from their family and friends.

It can be a very lonely existence walking around feeling like no-one sees us or cares that we exist.

Using the Weather to Connect

We joke about having to “talk about the weather” with people. We call it shallow and uninteresting. But if we wanted to have a chat with a total stranger, what could we talk about. Well, talking about the weather is perfect. We are all experiencing it. We are all feeling the cold or heat or rain or snow.

Whether the other person feels the same about the weather or not is irrelevant. The weather is simply the vehicle to have a connection. Perhaps one person loves the snow and the other thinks it’s horrible and can’t wait for spring.

We don’t have to have the same opinion. This isn’t the goal. The goal is connection…. and weather is the perfect vehicle to get us there.

The Illusion of Separateness

Many spiritual teachers have said that we are here to end this strange illusion of separateness. That we are acting out each day as if we are all separate. That we can do things to each other without hurting ourselves. This can include kindness or pain. We think that we are only affecting the other person… because they are separate from us.

But what if the yogis are right? What if we are all actually connected – perhaps as if we are all part of one body.

Imagine how insane it would be if our arms pretended that they weren’t connected to our legs. Or if our fingers believed that they weren’t part of the same body as our toes. Therefore, our hands could scratch our legs and not think that they were hurting themselves. Or on the flipside, to believe that if they gently massaged the legs, that it wouldn’t benefit the rest of the body.

Imagine the energy required for our fingers to maintain the illusion that they are not part of the same body. There would have to be a constant inner dialogue repeating that would mesmerize and convince them that they were separate.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just relax and feel the connection?

And so, what if we assumed that every person we saw was connected to us… like different limbs of the same body.

Imagine the ease of walking down the street and just allowing eye-contact. Imagine easily being able to say “Good morning. What a beautiful day it is today” and smiling.

Imagine if we allowed this to be our goal. To join with others with loving kindness all day long.

You Don’t Know the Effect You May Have

As someone who travels alone a lot, it is very easy to feel very alone in a new city.

I remember one time, I had travelled to Las Vegas. Incorrectly, I had assumed that staying in hostels in Vegas would be an uplifting and fun experience like staying in European hostels. Alas, it wasn’t even close. It was absolutely horrible. As I tried to use their main computer to book a flight out or find different accommodations (their wifi wasn’t working), a man sat beside me begging me to spend the night with him and he even stole my phone and room key… later to return them to me luckily. But the night was just horrible.

The next day, as I waited for my taxi to take me to the airport, my nerves were totally frazzled. No matter how much I breathed and tried to centre myself, my insides were just shaking.

And then, a man stepped into the waiting area of the hostel. As he walked by me, he looked me right in the eyes and smiled. It wasn’t anything crazy, just the most peaceful, genuine smile holding my eye-gaze. Instantly, I felt this wonderful peace flow all the way through me. All the anxiety left. All of the inner shaking was gone. I felt just wonderful.

All he did was look at me and smile. Somehow, I was no longer alone.

It was just amazing… the power of that simple smile.

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