What was the last encounter that you remember? It could be a smile from your neighbor that you met while you were on your way to take the garbage out, a random conversation you had with a stranger. It could also be an encounter you had with yourself. Think about the last time you met someone and the feeling you had afterwards and then continue reading.
In this article, I want to highlight the power encounters with other people have in our lives and how they might affect us subconsciously. Although encounters do not need to involve an interaction with another person, I want to share their benefits with you.
Every single human being has encounters. Some are spontaneous, others are planned days ahead. Some lead you to an unexpected way of thinking, others may support your meaning on a certain topic and strengthen your values, while others may disappoint you. There is no recipe for what an encounter with other people should include and what it should not, as you might see from the story I am about to share.
It was a late Saturday night in Vienna, and I decided to get some fresh air and go on an evening walk. I remember thinking about the great day I had, winning one round in a Backgammon game, eating a delicious dinner. The streets felt dark, because the streetlights were already turned off due to the Covid-19 restrictions in Austria, no car or person was to be seen. It was a strange atmosphere that I would forget about in the following minutes.
Suddenly, I saw a woman walking towards me on the same pathway that I was on. The normal interaction would be to maybe smile at each other and then continue on, but with this woman it was different.
She stopped and from the first moment on there was that warm feeling that you get when you interact with people you don’t know but want to learn more about. She gave me a compliment about my coat and we started talking to each other. I listened closely to her life story and the things that had an impact on her personal journey. Her name was Veronika (name changed), she was 64 years old from Bulgaria and had found her new home in Vienna. Although it was freezing, we stood on the pathway listening, laughing and philosophizing about life. It felt like time stood still. I trusted her and she trusted me from the first second on. The magic about this encounter left sparkles in me. Her life story was filled with relationships and encounters and she was sharing her experiences and giving me advice. She told me that she sometimes forgets her self worth and was forced to hold back her true self and was now wanting advice about her current relationship from me, a person she only knew for a few minutes. This gives you a little insight into our encounter. I asked myself why we as humans always ask people that we think we know about certain things, when sometimes just an opinion from a stranger can really help us find the best way to deal with it.
At the end of our conversation, Veronika shared with me that I should write all my wishes for 2021 on a paper and keep it under my mattress and they will come true. She shared it so confidently and with such faith that I will try it for the coming year. Since it worked for her for years, she was sure it would work for me too, I just needed to believe in it the same way that she does. After that we said goodbye to each other and wished each other the best in our lives going forward. This encounter with Veronika is just one example of how much impact encounters can have. They can lead you to new visions, ideas and allow you to dream big.
The encounters we have in our lives are not comparable with encounters we might hear from our friends. Nowadays, we have the opportunity to plan encounters days ahead with social media. We can decide who we want to meet and where. Dating apps like Tinder for example organize an encounter for us with a person we see through pictures on a screen and lets us automatically create a certain opinion about them.
I think the real power is to be found in spontaneous encounters that happen without the help of our screens. The courage to let encounters into our lives can help us lead us onto our path to be the person we want to be. They can pose questions that can motivate us to follow our own dream.
Another memorable encounter I had was at a political advertising stand in front of a park. I was on my way to meet a friend and decided to take a walk to the next tram station just because it felt right in that moment. I had no idea that due to this decision I would meet an artist who has a studio very close to where I live, and I will get onto my tram with an invitation to an artist gallery. This person supported me in my creative thinking and told me that there is always space for creativity. You just need to have the courage to try to channel creativity in life. For this artist, his way was to always have a sketchbook with him to capture special moments.
When I think about all the encounters that I have had in different places with strangers, I feel filled up with strength, trust and endless possibilities. While for us it may seem so small to share our life stories, these very stories can be life-changing to another.
With and through encounters we can make an impact in each other’s lives, and the best thing is that it doesn’t matter where we are, who we are and what we want. I hope you find the courage to let more chance encounters into your lives. They can open doors for you, for others around you and create a more connected understanding of the world.
To end, I would like to leave you with some food for thought that some kind strangers shared with me in Marrakesh, Morocco around a year ago:
“Good people find good people.”
Credits: drawing by pigwire