Life, Love, Poetry, Spirituality

why it’s good to talk to strangers

Every Sunday I get Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper in my inbox. I love sitting down with a cup of tea and reading her shared wisdom. This post, from Sunday January 20, 2019, resonated with me and strongly echoed what is going on in my life right now:

The other day, I was talking to a friend about the people who have most impacted our lives. She shared with me a moving encounter she recently had with a stranger and remarked, “Isn’t it odd that a total stranger had that kind of impact on me?”

I said it’s almost always a stranger that ends up shifting your life. In fact, my own life has been deeply impacted by several total strangers over the years.

My friend paused and was slightly aghast. “What do you mean? How can that be?” she asked.

Before someone becomes your friend or partner, they are a stranger to you, I explained. Something about them moved you and then you delved further into conversation — deeper into connection — and got to know them better.

Sometimes it might also be the words of a total stranger in a book or a poem that move you so deeply that you shift everything you thought you knew and embark on a different course.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, who passed away this week, came into my life just like that. Her words have touched and moved me so profoundly over the course of my life. Eventually, she went from being a total stranger to a loving, loyal friend and for that, I am forever grateful.

I met Mary through her words. We were intimate friends before I even met her in the flesh. When we did finally meet and I shared with her the impact that her writing had on me, she brushed it off. She was slightly embarrassed by my adoration, but still, she let me in and through conversation and sharing, we became deep friends.

The question Mary posed to me and millions of others through her work was “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Those words have reverberated in my heart and mind nonstop since I first saw them printed on paper. It’s such a beautiful and profound question and I just love its premise, which is that we all have one wild and precious life and what we do with it is ours to decide.

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