Day Twenty-Six (Saturday September 26th) Scared of missed opportunities. Be open and don’t stop listening.
How many times in a week, or even a day, do you make eye contact with a complete stranger and your first response is to break it. For comfort’s sake I believe most of us are guilty of this. I say guilty because making eye contact with complete strangers might not be such a bad thing after all. Every rule has its exception and I’m sure this is no different so be sure to read your strangers accordingly!
So I was off on an 8½ hour bus ride traveling to NYC solo. I had never taken the bus to New York before but as life goes, I decided to try something new. Actually, I thought I’d test myself and see if it was even possible for me be still for 8½ hours straight (no bus ticket was booked home). Turns out I can and could do it again, especially after the encounter I stumbled upon while heading to New York.
Fate/destiny/providence; call it what you’d like but it’s something I’ve grappled with and a topic I have yet to come to any solid conclusions upon. Most people, when they board a plane or a bus or whatever the mode of public transportation may be, hope to avoid the following people: those who smell bad, those who take up more than their fair share of seat space/do not understand the social graces of personal space, and finally, those who fall under the category of ‘Chatty Kathy’. Call it destiny but I happened to avoid all of the aforementioned.
After being warned by an American customs officer to sit near the front of the bus, I threw that advice to the shit-can and proceeded towards the back to find a cute older woman who looked decent enough to share a seat with. Once settled with my book and iPod, me and stranger across the way caught eyes. Now, here’s where I would usually look away and break eye contact, especially with an attractive male. Locking eyes with a stranger can be completely invasive and uncomfortable, and then there’s that whole look away because you don’t want them thinking you’re interested in them bit. But in my new found openness for doing things that scare me, I didn’t look away and instead gave a friendly smile.
Here is where the two thoughts of school come into play. First possibility is that there is absolutely no significance to this encounter whatsoever. So I smiled and was open enough to talk to an attractive stranger for 5 hours… Big deal, people do it all the time and it means nothing in the slightest that I was able to carry on this exchange for an extended period of time. Perhaps I should just start referring to myself as a Chatty Kathy!? Second notion is a bit more romantic in the sense of destiny. Perhaps it was fate that I chose to take the bus, and fate that I chose that bus time and fate that I chose that seat near the back… All these variables came together for an opportunity to surface and the chance to meet someone amazing. No matter what the case, no matter how many variables came together, it was all dependent on me being open to the opportunity to meet someone new and perhaps step out of my comfort zone for a moment.
Yes, I’m sure I could have continued to read my pretention novel (Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises) and watch the TV shows my sister was so kind to have put on my iPod, but instead I expanded my horizons and met a staggering individual who supplied me with endless conversation. So, are chance encounters such a chance? Perhaps they are, perhaps not, but it is most definitely dependent on what you do with these “chance opportunities”. So put your pretentious novels away and your technology bits down because I’m sure you wouldn’t want the regret of a missed opportunity.
Now go face a fear; do something that scares you!
 Believe me when I said I’ve been dealt my fair share of horrible seat buddies – my favourite being a teenage girl who was a nervous flyer, spilled orange juice all over me an hour in, puked in the barf bag (realize it’s a plus as it wasn’t ON ME!) and had frizzy black waist length hair that robber me of the $500 seat I had rightfully bought from London, UK to Toronto, Canada. I had paid my dues.
 It’s a long story (mine not Hemingway’s) and my first time ever reading Ernest Hemingway. I really could have read it in private rather than the public sphere… but I guess I’m just a pompous asshole.