Last night, I received a call from Graeme on French Island, Australia. He put me on loudspeaker to him and six other wwoofers. I have never met any of these people, they had all only just met each other, yet we all chatted freely for nearly an hour about a whole assortment of topics (many of which I wouldn’t repeat!) as if we’d known each other a long time.
A couple of days before this, when casually googling directions to French Island, by chance I came across a Gumtree ad from a Taiwanese girl looking for a companion to travel to French Island with, and so immediately I invited her along to the Workaway too and we will be travelling there together tomorrow. I have never met any of these people. Do you find this strange? Why?
There is something beautiful about the way that life brings people together and traveling seems to throw up so many more of these opportunities than would ever be found in your everyday nine to five routine, or that you would ever allow yourself to seek and embrace. I am genuinely excited that tomorrow I will be meeting eight people, from all over the world, from very different backgrounds and whom I most likely would never have come anywhere close to meeting had it not been for the Workaway website and my own curious nature. Some I might like; some I might dislike but I will be thankful for the opportunity that I would otherwise not have had and I will be open to learning about all of them.
These past couple of weeks have been truly inspirational. I have met so many interesting people who have challenged my opinions, caused me to question my own views and values and taught me to open my mind, as I have them, and still I will hold them as friends at the end of it (why would we fall out over something so natural as individual difference?).
It never ceases to amaze me just how much a simple meeting or a short conversation can have such an influence on your life. And it is also amazing, although by no means miraculous and entirely possible, that making such small changes to your life can make it so wonderful.
Just by opening your mind; opening your heart; listening; understanding; reconsidering; challenging; you can enrich your life greatly. I believe that openness is truly the key. Be open about who you are; be open about your experiences; be open about your feelings; be open to meeting others; ask questions and answer honestly; be open to learning new things and trying to understand the ways of others; be open to challenging others’ beliefs and having your own challenged; be open to your own beliefs and values changing; be open to being wrong and admitting that this is so and making your life better as a result (I can only see that that makes you a winner anyway).
I am guilty, as I am sure you all are too. I have been dishonest and I have defended beliefs that are naive and unfounded. I have been proud and embarrassed to be wrong or to seem inexperienced. But why? There is no shame in being wrong; no shame in realising that somebody else’s belief or method is better than yours, that is surely a helpful realisation that will benefit you and equip you to deal with a future experience.
There is no shame in realising that I know so little about the world. I am young and inexperienced. Others are older, some younger; some more experienced, some not. It is surely a strength to be able to realise that and to use others as resources to improve yourself and your own life. Why would you try to do that by yourself? How could you possibly do that by yourself when you have so little experience?
Human beings are made to share and learn from one another; to help one another and to ask for help. How can this work if we are not at least honest? Tell people how you feel; take the views and suggestions of others on board, consider them, challenge them, use them; be confident to offer your own thoughts and suggestions and adapt and change them for the better, with a smile on your face. That is natural and beautiful and basic and something so fundamental to a happy human existence. There is no pride in making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself and others.
So, get naked, let everyone see what makes you unique and beautiful and let everyone see your metaphoric wobbly bits so that they can understand (because they’ve all got them too!) and help each other to make the best life possible, wobbly bits and all.