365 Strangers/365 Days (#832)

A complete stranger came up to me at the mall on Saturday with his young daughter in tow and a clipboard in his hand, and I quickly busied myself on my iPhone in hopes that he’d go away without too much of a fuss. Unsurprisingly, he persisted and somewhat apologetically gave me his pitch. For 365 days, he had decided to go up to complete strangers and ask them two questions about the world. He would then take their picture and post their answers in a blog. Would I be willing to be day 349?

Since my wife was ordering at a nearby coffee shop, I led Richard (now no longer quite so much of a stranger) and his daughter over to where Nina was waiting and introduced them. Once again, he gave us his pitch – two questions, one snapshot, and we would be on our way.

Here were the questions, in my own words:

1. If you were handed a microphone and could share one message that would be heard by the whole world, what would it be?

2. What’s your vision for humanity going forward?

I was struck by how difficult I found it to answer the questions given what I do for a living, but I was equally struck by how quickly and easily Nina was able to answer. Here’s an excerpt from the blog he wrote about our encounter on Saturday evening. (You can read the full entry with additional pictures here.)

The countdown is on, and our one-year anniversary is so very near, September 9th to be exact; a day that I have anticipated since the inception of 365 and a Sunday that will mark the beginning of the next phase of our uniting outreach. I’m putting my final touches on exactly what the next steps are, but I promise to bring you up to speed shortly after the 9th.

You have proven to me that there are far too many of us who are doing the works: In thoughts, in deeds and in outlook towards each other.

Nowhere better to example this finding than in the words of today’s friends, Mike and his lovely British wife, Nina, both of whom radiate a certain kind of acceptance of 365’s campaign for unity, in very short and succinct words of advice.

“My words of wisdom if everybody were listening…? This too will pass, because everything is transient in life… This too will pass.”

“I wrote this about you originally…” Michael looks at Nina, crediting her for his inspiration, “…She who dies with the most love… wins.”

I’ll not blab on in asking you to reflect upon what this loving couple is saying. And in their predictions of the future, again, both Nina and Michael stay true to their hopes for a more connected people.

“…Kindness… I hope the world is heading in that direction. I want the planet to be kinder… Kinder to each other… kinder to the planet, it’s the only way things can progress forward.”

“When people see that happiness and wellbeing are our natural state… we are born happy. Then all the things that are out in the world that we are trying to get, and are messing up the world, they will fade. There is a kindness to this design.”

I must go…

Yet, I know that I will be taking with me the seeds planted this day by our sweet friends of day 349.

Michael and Nina

Nina, Michael, thank you for your kindness, and your words of the same… you have directed us onto the right path.

Take care my friends.

There were three things I particularly loved about our encounter with Richard. The first was that as he had no idea of who I was or what I do, I was able to at least attempt to answer the questions as a human being, not an author or teacher. The second was that he was on day 349. It reminded me of my own “project 365” when I decided to write one coaching tip a day for an entire year back in 2001, how I didn’t really think I could do it and how quickly the project took on a life of its own.

But I think my favorite thing had to be the way his 9 year old daughter patiently put up with “dad doing his weird talking to strangers thing”, reminding me that if we can share our lives with people who we love, it doesn’t really matter what they think of what we do.

Here’s your homework…

1. If you were handed a microphone and could share one message that would be heard by the whole world, what would it be?

2. What’s your vision for humanity going forward?

3. If you were going to take on a project 365 – a daily project that would expand your world and/or contribute to the world as a whole – what would it be?

Please share your answers, and I look forward to reading your replies!

With all my love,

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