So I keep this little red journal where I write illegible bouts of ideas and thoughts. It’s like a hard drive of impressions made of words rather than a photo taken with a camera. Or, it’s like a memory scrapbook, a place to vomit out thoughts, and a place to collect thoughts through stream of consciousness writing. It’s got dreams, short story ideas, and things I think about on public transportation. Basically, it’s a private thing that no one should really care about.
And then I shared it with a stranger.
A complete stranger.
A guy I met at the campsite outside of Amsterdam who was downing beers with two friends, laughing, sharing stories, and comparing the Dutch and English languages.
It was like uncovering yourself for another person (maybe even literally because it made me feel naked). But there is something especially honest about sharing your own truths with people who are not going to judge you, for people who are curious just for the sake of being curious. His interest in the journal and in the entry felt like a gift to me for writing and sharing.
The other week in Amsterdam, I walked by a middle-aged lady who was playing the accordion in a busy part of the city center. It was an area full of people, tourists, and souvenir shops, right across two tram lines. She was just making music and looked like she was enjoying herself. More importantly, she was willing to share the music with passbyers who may or may not listen. So I stood on the side, away from the stream of people and listened to her. Then I gave her some money, and she smiled back as I walked away.
I think the theme that I am finding here is that it can be rewarding both for you and for others to open up. I had to remind myself of that while traveling in the last few weeks. And my advice for others doing the same is don’t be afraid to share with others, even if it seems like you are putting yourself too “out-there.”
If you write, let a stranger read it. If you play an instrument, let others hear you. I feel like those who don’t want to listen won’t listen, but it just might make someone else’s day.
Speaking of street performers, this post reminded me of a TED talk about a woman street performer who poses (yes, that’s a pun) a question, why is it so hard for us to ask for help? If you’re in the mood, check it out.