There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.
– William Butler Yeats
My daughter Dakota goes to a children’s centre nearby to attend their ‘stay and play’ sessions. I’ve been there a few times and it’s a lot of fun! Toys, books, play-dough and paint are just some of the nice things you will find there. They even serve snacks (usually fresh fruit) and they end each session with a ‘sing along’ (Dakota used to love singing ‘Wind the Bobbin’ and ‘Zoom, Zoom, Zoom’ but her current favourite is ‘Down in the Jungle’). All in all it’s a great experience for the entire family. A bit like school, but without the boring lessons and rules and you get to come and go as you like (the future of schooling perhaps???).
So the other day, my wife Shani took Dakota to ‘stay and play’. When they returned, Shani was telling me about how Dakota had made a new friend that day. Apparently a little boy (who has introduced himself as ‘SpongeBob’) had taken a liking to her and decided to hang out. He had stayed with Shani and Dakota for the better part of that session, while his Mum had been with his sibling. When Dakota had wanted to go and look for a toy stethoscope, they had marched off together hand in hand. ‘SpongeBob’ had even sat with Shani and Dakota during the sing along.
Hearing this story made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It made me wonder if it was possible for us adults to ever be like that: so free; so friendly; so unafraid and able to reach out to others (without any agenda other than to be friendly); to be approached without being suspicious of what the other person’s motives might be; without all the baggage and the complications of our perceived differences; and without all the other reasons we come up with in order to avoid each other.
I know that the things I have listed above are based on what I have thought, lived and experienced. I understand that other people might see things very differently. In fact, I am blessed enough to know a few exceptionally friendly people, who have no trouble approaching strangers and striking up a conversation instantly. They seem to work some sort of magic wherever they go. I am so glad there there are people like them. I want to be more like them: to embrace my humanity and to let my love for people shine through a little more.
I understand that I certainly have some way to go. But the times when I have been brave enough to reach out, the rewards have been more than worth it! Even if nothing came out of it, I’ve had the satisfaction of knowing that I conquered myself that time. This makes me all the more determined to keep going and to keep letting go of my fears and inhibitions.