What a stranger can teach you

I’m going to do something I don’t usually do and that is to talk about people on this blog. You see, on the solo leg of my journey, I had the greatest fortune to meet and chat with two fellows, one in each of St. John’s and St. Pierre. I spent a few hours talking to each of them and come away so inspired and a little frustrated as I take a look at my life. It’s good, but my wings feel clipped. They are older than I am and yet don’t face the restrictions I feel, what gives? The easy answer is that they are men and are wealthier than I am. The real answer is that they have made choices that have not been off limits to me but I have refrained all along.

I have no connection to either one of them any longer so my proof is in writing it down. I’ll try to be as impartial and relevant as possible.

The fellow I met in St. Pierre – let’s call him Keith – used to live in Canada and now works in Silicon Valley. I wanted to trade social media information just so I could follow his adventures in FB like a “friend” and then hit him up for a tour of his workplace because it’s *really cool*.

In talking about how he ended up in St. Pierre so that I, for my part, could have confirmation my plan to visit wasn’t crazy, I learned about his travel style: In a five-day interval he visited five cities, even with almost two of those days spent in St. Pierre! He avidly plans and researches his travel and he would go to Hawaii for a weekend while others need to make it a week-long affair. I’m the same way; case in point, I used to go to Halifax or Toronto from Vancouver for just the weekend.

In the course of our conversation which spanned from sharing our last (and best) St. Pierre meal to the airport to crossing the border back to Canada, I learned about his passion, the true motive to travel: climbing. He didn’t look the part so I was surprised at first. His quest to climb has has taken him all over the world and guides his future travels. I get excited for him to put together his plans and check another summit off his list. Like me, he tries to to visit his company’s offices in other cities and countries. And so he could understand my desire to get marathon medals in every province, how close I was to two that I still don’t have.

I was reminded to embrace my passion and be motivated to make what is important to me a reality, even if no one else would understand it and if no one else is doing it.

I met a fellow at the first pub I went to in St. John’s – let’s call him Allen – and we talked over several hours as we visited five other pubs and clubs. It makes me question my West Coast radar because, like Keith, Allen hails from the west coast (sorta). He is a folk violinist who is currently employed by a cruise line and I’m glad I didn’t know I was in the presence of musical greatness or I would have been completely tongue-tied.

When we watch SYTYCD, I remind NPY of how much blood, sweat, tears and repetition he misses and takes for granted when they skip from funny outtakes during rehearsal to flawless performances. The dancers are artists and slightly crazy. I asked Allen if I would have heard of him before and he showed me his driver’s license and I Googled him and watched some YouTube videos after we parted ways. I juxtapose my experience with endless repetition in dance (ballet) and music (piano and violin – a million years ago), multiply that by a thousand and get a sense of how much work he has to do and it gives me chills that I could bend his ear for a while. I wish we had talked more about how to create.

After we got over the requisite questions about his work, we got into what also lies behind his squeaky clean, wholesome image. It was a bit of a one-way exchange because I am not well versed in religion and from our conversation, I realize I have been narrowly focused for too long while also not really that broadly knowledgeable and only at a superficial level. After enthusiastically giving me a taste of just the tip of the iceberg of his interests, Allen recommended some reading that would rock my world view as it did his.

Allen’s deep passion for music and religion reminds me to make room for diverse interests in my life. I am inspired to not be complacent in my learning for a dull, uninspired and undeserving person I would become.

I thank both Keith and Allen for sharing stories with me and enriching my life. I hope I was also uniquely good company in return.

On this day..