I have a fascination with strangers—I’m intrigued by the connection that occurs in the passing moments when our worlds collide.
Strangers are unlike anyone else in our lives. They have no emotional attachment to us, they haven’t seen our highest points or lowest valleys, and they don’t care about our vices and contradictions.
In a way, they have the potential to offer a perspective that virtually no one else can give. It all seems a bit mystical.
Have you ever mused over a certain issue or had thoughts vacillating in your head and no matter how many spiritual books you’ve read or yoga classes you’ve attended, you still can’t seem to gain genuine clarity and peace? And then, just like that, you hear the very thing you’ve needed to hear in a seemingly normal conversation with a person you’ve never met before in a regular, everyday circumstance.
I had been tackling the idea of a career change, but was feeling hesitant. I felt an inescapable urge to chart a new course, but I was feeling torn between starting over and remaining on a team I’d grown to adore. It became an increasingly difficult task when my tentativeness began playing tug-of-war with resolve in my mind. I had yet to find peace in where my feet would lead me.
For some much-needed self-care, I went to get a pedicure.
I walked into the salon on a typical Friday evening, and you could feel the tension of the nail technicians silently anticipating what was waiting for them on the other side of closing time. The receptionist hurried me to the back of the salon and I collapsed into the spa chair.
“No problem, sweetie,” the nail technician assured me after I knocked over the bench containing all of her supplies.
“Is there anything that I can get you?” she asked, with a look of tranquility in her eyes.
I was immediately met with a feeling of genuine sincerity. She had a quiet and calm presence about her, and by the way she carried herself, it was obvious that she had done some intense spiritual work. I was mesmerized by her vibe.
As I glanced around, every person sitting in a chair was focused on their mobile device—and most certainly not engaged with the person attending to their wellness. As I settled into the pedicure, we exchanged standard niceties. As we got acquainted, I felt an inclination to dig a little deeper:
“How long have you been doing nails? When did you know this is what you wanted to do?”
She told me how she had an affinity for massage therapy and was a licensed massage therapist, but she had more of a flexible schedule doing nails. I inquired whether I would be able to see her in two weeks—already plotting to have her as my regular technician.
She shrugged her shoulders and explained that she would be traveling to South Africa in the next couple of weeks. I was ecstatic for my stranger-friend, but slightly disappointed I wouldn’t be able to see her again. Her eyes lit up as she elaborated, but I also got the feeling that she was surprised that someone was intrigued enough to ask.
As she continued to speak, I immediately felt connected to the deepest parts of her humanness. She began to explain that traveling was what made her feel alive, and she traveled often—covering many countries over five continents. She loved her work, but felt nudged to travel the world (most times by herself), where she could do remarkable volunteer work in whichever place she landed. In awe of her, I asked if she was ever afraid of traveling alone:
“At times I am afraid, but I am not willing to wait on other people to buy their ticket.”
I leaned in. There it was. The thing I needed to hear.
She was gracefully unapologetic for embracing her wanderlust, even if it meant going alone. She admitted that it wasn’t always beautiful, that there were times of loneliness that came in the most unexpected ways. She was assured, however, that it all paled in comparison to following the nudge of her soul.
I immediately reflected on all of the ways that I have followed my own inner nudges over the years, but I realized there was more work to be done. More to explore. More to do. More to give.
It was the validation I had been waiting on.
Although I had no tangible plans to travel the world, the significance rang true in my own life. I have a hunch it applies to all of us. Wanderlust does not have to be exclusive to travel. Following the nudge to explore who we are and uncovering the gifts that we were meant to give are an exciting and essential journey.
Each nudge leads us on a deeply personal voyage. There are times when we do get to share parts of our journey with others and those are precious, but there are times when we must not wait on others to buy a ticket.
I never saw the nail technician again after that day. But I will carry her words with me forever. I gained indisputable clarity—all because of a passing moment of connection with a stranger.
I am now ready to embrace all of life’s adventures that allow me to share my gifts with the world.
I’ve packed my bags. Have you?
Author: Nicole Edwards
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina