I talk to strangers. And, funny enough, these people who I see for the first, and probably the last time in my life, become so fucking important to me.
I talk to homeless people selling old books, that enfold your olfactory receptors with a strong smell of alcohol the moment you open them. The smell is that tart that at first you cannot even read what's written on the pages, your eyes are tearing up. You can't help but squint. Partly because the physical pain is real, partly because you've got a feeling that you might read something that will disturb you. But still, you make an effort and your eyes run along the first paragraph. And through the haze of alcohol molecules, you see a story. On these dirty yellow pages you find a person. A human being. With their beliefs, hopes, and regrets. It is a whole universe, now you know.
I talk to strangers. And each time I take a deep breath and approach another person, something cracks inside me. While making my timid steps, I hear this crackling. Do you know that all arthropods have an exoskeleton? And that's rather adaptive for them the majority of their lives. Exoskeleton protects them from all the harm of the world which might be cruel whoever you are — a cancer, an insect or a human. But when arthropods grow, they suddenly realize that inside of this comforting security, they've got no more space to change. Fortunately for them, arthropods don't suffer from psychological problems, so they just leave their skeletons behind and move on. I might be less open to the world than they are, so I hesitate a little bit more, but nevertheless, I have found my way to escape from the outer skeleton. Oh, and something important: the arthropods' chitinous cover gracefully turned into the humans' feeling of apartness. It is when you find yourself in the middle of the urban hurricane. Stories and statuses, ambitions and disenchantment, fear and hope — they all sweep past you. Lonely in the crowd, so it's called? It sounds rather dramatic, which is funny, because the cure is so trivial — a breath, a step, a hello. You start talking with the stranger, and the soap bubble that separates you from the outside world bursts. You fill your lungs with the fresh outer-bubble air. You fill your heart with compassion. And it becomes evident: apartness is a chosen illusion. We might be infinitely different, but we're all in the same boat. A beautiful one, I must confess.
I talk to strangers. And with each story unfolding right in front of me, amazement overwhelms my whole being, and my heart starts pounding so fast that I hear it accompanying my new stranger's words. I am amazed, because these alien lives show me who I am. And it's not that I find so much in common with each person. Usually, the intersections are minimal. But it's not about the content itself, even though it makes me cry and laugh so often. It is about your perception. The world as we know it is a huge and rich phenomenological space. In psychosemantics the elements of our conscious experience are described as representing three main aspects. The first one is a sign, for example, a word. The second one is the piece on objective reality that the sign refers to. It might be a face, an event, a conflict, whatever. And the icing on the cake is the subjective meaning of this piece of reality. The last element is the most flexible and dynamic one. It uncovers the peculiarity of our perception, because the same things evoke different reactions. And by exploring these reactions we're opening the door that leads to the hidden corners of our personalities. That's how I see the reflection of myself in my beautiful strangers. And the more unknown they are, the more attentive and gentle I become to the flow of my meanings.
I talk to strangers. To my wonderful strangers. And I become a stranger to myself. Who are you, friend?