Last October, I got a chance to go to Los Angeles for work and ended up being able to fly out a few days early to hang with Taylor, my best friend in the whole wide world. During my first night there, we went to an anniversary event for his church.
This wasn't the type of event where you go and get fed a full meal; they had a few hors d'oeuvres and adult beverages available, but that was about it. By the end of the night, Taylor and I were very hungry. We heard a group was going to a bar right around the corner to get food afterward, so we decided to join them.
When we arrived at the bar, it was pretty empty. There was a band playing music and a few people sitting around listening, but that was about it. We went up to the dining area on the top floor. There were two guys sitting up there I vaguely remembered being at the event. Taylor and I went to go ask one of the waiters if they were serving food, and, when the waiter told us they weren't, it was like the whole world lost color.
I don't know about you, but, when I'm hungry, not only do I get hangry (hungry + angry); I completely zone out. My girlfriend can always tell when I haven't eaten in a while because I'll go without talking for long stretches of time and just stare off into the distance.
After the bad news we'd just gotten, Taylor and I sat with the two guys from the church event. I sat with my back turned to the guys, looking over the balcony, and wondering when we were going to leave and grab dinner. Then, suddenly, Taylor moved next to the guy behind me and began talking to him. I turned around to see who he was talking to, and you'll never believe who it was:
I had been sitting with the biggest pop star in the world and had no idea. I didn't have time to freak out like I wanted to, so I just stuck my hand out and introduced myself.
"What's up, man? I'm Alex."
"Hey, I'm Justin."
(Yeah, I know).
We ended up talking for probably close to five minutes about Young Life, Colorado, snowboarding, and his pastor. It was probably one of the coolest moments of my entire life.
I tell you this story not just because it was a really awesome experience, but also because I believe we can have moments like this every day if we're open to it.
Everyone around us has a story, magic within them that can help make the world a more wonderful place. No, we might not all have millions of dollars or cases full of awards. But we all carry something exceedingly more special – who we are, what we've gone through, an inherent value that can't be diminished by what we've done or haven't done.
However, I say all this, but it's so easy for me to put my headphones in on the plane, stare at my phone when I'm walking around, or simply ask, "How are you?" instead of diving deeper with more thoughtful questions. How many of us live zoned out, staring off into the distance without realizing who we're sitting with, walking by, or living next to?
Going into this weekend, I offer up a challenge for you and me – that we exchange our fears, our to-do lists, and our attachments to comfort for opportunities to engage with the people around us and see how we might learn from them, how we might have more in common than we thought, and even how we might gain a glimpse of the beauty all around us.
Who's with me? Who's willing to commit to one conversation?