Strange

Do you know the feeling: You only realize something, after you actually said it? Today I was asked to write a few sentences about myself, as kind of an informal introduction. This is what I wrote:

“I’m German and live in Washington DC for 2 1/2 year now, before I lived and worked in Ghana, West Africa. At the moment I divide most of my time (and passion) between being a free-lancing facilitator (with focus on developing countries) and mothering my daughter Sarah, 10 months old. In the time that’s left between these two, I dance (tango), read (fiction), write (blogs), cook (vegetarian) and talk with strangers.”

What struck me when I read through it again is the “talk with strangers” part of it. Because it’s true, I do talk with strangers. A lot. Every day, if I have my way. My husband knows that a day when I haven’t left the house, is a bad day. And that is, partly, because I haven’t gotten my daily dose of strangers. Why do I like talking to them, with them? Because they are strange.

They tell me things I don’t know. For example: “Poodles are good dogs for people with allergies”. Random stuff. They inspire me. For example by talking about Personal Kanban (even though after talking with Jim Benson I can hardly call him a stranger anymore. But… come to think of it, that’s true for all strangers after you get to know them, see lyrics below). They have networks that I have not and might have answers to questions I didn’t even know I had (see above, in re. poodles…).

When I first talked with Melinda Blau about her book “Consequential Strangers”, I was intrigued, because I always love meeting people who are going into the depth of exploring something where I just had an inkling… It’s a very readable book about all kinds of reasons why people benefit not only from the close interaction with their loved ones but also and especially from the weak links, the acquaintances, the friends of a friend’s brother-in-law and the ordinary street-stranger…

And here is the sound-track to this post: Tom Waits and Bette Midler never talk to strangers…

One Response

  1. LOve your rumination — and your attraction to — strangers. But I want to point out that (at least according to my book), once you connect wth someone, learn a little about him or her, and share something of yourself, you’re no longer “strangers”–you’re “consequential strangers.” Karen Fingerman coined the phrase, and the modifier “consequential” completely changes the noun. Like “military intelligence” is really something quite different from “intelligence”! I wrote a post about this on my blog that might interest you: http://www.consequentialstrangers.com/2009/07/21/getting-stuck-on-the-word-stranger/
    Thanks for your kind words about the book. I hope those who read it will become similarly intrigued by the people they encounter in the course of a day–and will turn many of them into consequential strangers!

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