I love a good story. I like reading them, hearing them, telling them. I especially love when someone wants to share a personal story.
I have found that I am the type of person that people have no problem confiding in. And I’m not only referring to my family or friends. I’m talking about perfect strangers.
It seems wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I’ll often find myself being approached. Suddenly I am hearing intimate details about a stranger’s life.
It’s become such a common occurrence in my life that often I’m able to sense when it’s about to happen.
On my way home from London I had two such an encounters. It was funny, though. As much as these two strangers wanted to talk to me to tell their stories, I felt like they both delivered messages I needed to hear.
The first happened on the way to the airport. A car arrived to shuttle me to Heathrow, about forty minutes away. That is more than enough time to get someone’s life story and that’s what the driver felt like telling me.
I found out about his childhood in Dubai, his parents, his siblings, what his siblings are doing now, his former jobs and his future plans. At one point he expressed the desire to leave London and move back to Dubai. That’s when he said this:
“I’m waiting until I am fully bored with London. I want to wait until I know there is not even a chance I will want to come back. I believe when you move on, you move on. There’s no backwards and forwards. That’s how I want to feel. I want to leave and know I am fully done with this place. Just go forward. Never backward.”
He had a point. I thought about times in my life when I did in fact go forward and backwards until I had the feeling he described—of just knowing I was completely done with something. It was only then that I was able to move on, no looking back. In fact, that’s often what gives me solace when I find myself feeling indecisive about something. Reminding myself that eventually things will change or that I will just be done and move forward, helps me in times of confusion.
The second encounter happened hours later. On the plane a young man was sitting next to me. As it was a seven hour flight, I was glad he didn’t start conversation until the last fifteen minutes—also plenty of time to hear a life story.
He told me how he was Greek, but lived in Germany his whole life before moving to London for school. He had already obtained his M.D and was now completing his PhD. I wondered with so much intelligence and his different opportunities what he would do next.
So I asked thinking he’d mention some amazing job.
“I’m going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.”
This shocked me. No offense, but with his small frame and pale skin, he just didn’t seem like the mountain climbing type. “That’s probably the last thing I expected you to say.”
“Well, let me tell you why I’m doing it. All my life, I’ve done what everyone has expected me to do. Go to school, study, get a degree, work, study some more… For once, I’m doing something for me, something no one expects me to do. No one cares that I’m doing this. No one cares if I succeed or not. This is something I just need to do for me.”
I had to respect that. One of the hardest things for me is figuring out what it is I want, and then doing it guilt free, without explaining myself to anyone. I worry about being selfish or what people may think. But listening to this young man, who didn’t care what anyone thought, I realized something like that wasn’t selfish at all, but rather something to energize his soul.
And feeding our souls is just as essential as anything else we choose to do on a daily basis, if not more so.
I appreciated hearing two life stories in one day, especially ones with such words of wisdom that have stayed with me over this past week.
Thank you for the stories that people share with me. I consider it a blessing. Give me a good story any day. I’ll always take the time to sit back and listen.