Day 217: Strangers

Throughout my life, various people — who have wanted me to be safe — have said this:

Don’t talk to strangers.

Sometimes,  I’m not sure what to do with that advice.  It speaks to this very difficult question:

Who do I trust?

(which I wrote about, here,  in “Day 89: Is somebody trying to sell me something?”)

Yes, “Who do I Trust?”  is a very difficult question, with evolving, best-guess, and survival-oriented answers.

Who do you trust?  And when is it safe enough to connect with somebody?

When I offer people the opportunity to participate in group therapy,  a lot of people say “no,” stating completely reasonable reasons like this:

I don’t want to tell a bunch of strangers my problems.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? And I respect and honor that natural impulse, to protect oneself from strangers.

I, myself, have a fear of strangers. And of the unknown, in general.

And yet, this is something I see all the time: People taking a leap of trust, coming together with strangers, and helping each other heal.

It’s amazing how quickly people can negotiate their fears, making choices that feel safe enough, and connect to other people.

However, no matter how many times that happens,  that self-preservation — that healthy caution about strangers — remains.

Often, at the end of a group therapy session of no-longer-strangers, people will state their wish that the others in the group will be there the next time.  I hear a concern that, the next time, strangers will be there.

And sometimes I say this, “Well, none of you knew each other at the beginning of this meeting, either.”

And people will say, “That’s true.”

And I see a mixture of comfort and caution on their faces.

Which makes sense, doesn’t it?

Before I end this post, I wanted to show an event I attended where I encountered some strangers:

Last weekend, I visited the  Chairful Where You Sit charity event, in Arlington, MA.  Here’s a description of Chairful Where You Sit:


After talking to the person was running the event at that location that day, I decided to purchase a chair.

This was a charitable act and also a selfish one. Let me explain:  I have been wanting to expand my very helpful practice of mindfulness by meditating every day.  Meditation is new (and therefore strange) to me, and to overcome my resistance to that, I knew it would help to designate a Place To Meditate.

And this is what I got at Chairful Where You Sit:


Thanks to Lynn Rosenbaum,  to mindful friends and strangers, and to you, for sitting and reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Day 217: Strangers

  1. pellythatgirl

    Your observations are spot-on. It sometimes doesn’t take very long for a stranger to become a buddy or even a great friend, and contrarily, for life-long friends to remain very foreign to us. Personally, it’s often easier for me to speak candidly with someone I don’t know at all as opposed to my nearest and dearest. There’s almost a sense of throwing caution to the wind when talking to strangers as opposed to having loved ones hash out details and bring them up in future conversations. Feeling able to speak freely is invaluable.

  2. I love your Chairful! what a glorious place to meditate.

    And I agree with Pellythatgirl — Feeling able to speak freely — and doing it — is invaluable. The willingness to be vulnerable creates space to be courageous and free.

  3. Perfect chair!

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  5. findingmyinnercourage

    Perfect place to meditate!

  6. First, I love Rose….she’s adorably open. 😉

    Second I think YOUR chair absolutely awesome and perfect. And I know in time you will find that it will be easy to meditate anywhere and everywhere and the story of your chair will be a great introduction to how it has changed your life.

    Third…I’m one of those who does not do Group. I’ve done group. I had serious SERIOUS problems with it…maybe it was too early for me, maybe my mindset was off…but it did not go well.

    However, my therapist….who is carefully not pushing it, says that perhaps one day….I will join the DBT program which has group with it. So we’ll see. She’s smart though, she said we won’t talk about that for another 6-8 months. 😉

    Okay….I’m off to another day in your posts *skip skip*

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