I did the weirdest thing this morning. At ten o’clock, in below zero temps, I found myself meeting up with eight strangers in a parking lot to go for a walk.
See, my husband had noticed a women’s post on a neighbourhood Facebook group inviting other women in the area to join her in her resolution to get off the screens, connect face to face with her community and get a little exercise. She set up a private group to set the details, so although the Sherlock watching part of my brain was going on about serial killer plots, my more rational brain was pretty sure it would all be ok. Plus we were right beside an open cafe on a busy street, so.
Going outside in the freezing cold and making small talk with strangers is so very out of character for me. I was almost certain I would bail at the last minute but ultimately felt compelled to see it through. Why?
I was so taken by this women’s brave vulnerability in putting herself out there like that. It’s easy for us to stay in our work/home/close friends/internet bubble, but she went for it anyway. I didn’t like to think of her standing out there alone if everyone chickened out.
The amount of people who responded was incredible. Although only eight of over fifty who responded showed up, the sentiment was heartwarming. It seems there are a lot of people who are looking for more connection in their community. For better or worse, in a city where we often shuffle past each other with our heads down, eyes averted or glued to a screen, maybe social media is the most effective vehicle for creating it.
The biggest draw though was sheer curiosity. Would anyone actually show up? What would the random sampling of people be like? Would it feel awkward and clunky to chat and walk together for an hour? Is it really that bad to feel a little awkward and clunky from time to time?
I am happy to report there was no obvious serial killer plot, everyone was cheerful, open and kind and I was left with the reminder that no group of people is all that random (insert inspirational we are all one quote here).
Whether or not I continue to trek out in the cold with my neighbours, I’m glad I went with my impulse this morning. It’s the beginning of my own New Year’s theme: to follow the trail of curiosity. To ask with a playful spirit, what if? and why not? And see where it leads.