Nameless Neighbor


Yesterday I met a 78 year old woman on an airplane. She had a zebra scarf and fashionable sunglasses. We talked about life and death and Delaware–education, music, September 11th, shipwrecks, special needs, and everything in between. I know about her grandchildren, her years in college, and the death of her husband, but I do not know her name. These are the kind of interactions I remember. The connections made in travel when we are all in a place between where we are going and where we’ve been. A place where it’s okay to spend two hours talking to a stranger you would have never acknowledged on the street.

We need to put more value in these sorts of connections– these moments of community. At St. Olaf they are frequent, but in the “real” world they are few and far between. My Grandpa collected friends wherever he went. When he retired and no longer carried a business card, he made a different sort of contact card. On it was a picture taken of him beside his wife, along with their address and telephone number. Who knows how many people have a calling card from John D. Maney at this very moment. He lived his life for those moments of connection. countless introverts opened up their world to him simply because he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I think that more of us need to live this way. We need to learn from each other and know one another beyond just names and business gains.


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