Life after lockdown has not been what a lot of us expected, and it is the conversations with strangers that I now realise I missed most.
I’m reminded of that fantastic movie, Lost In Translation when I think about all of us moving around post-lockdown, looking for connection, reaching for bits of our our old life that are no longer there, and looking to create new parts of our new life that haven’t yet formed.
Conversations – even fleeting ones with strangers can be powerful, and can change our perspective on so many things, especially in the technological age when we spend so much time obsessing with our screens, engaging in online chat and so little in the real world.
One of the first things I did out of lockdown here in Sydney was go to a cycling class, Infinite Cycle in Bondi Junction, which is one of those fab indoor, sweaty, dark, disco-like places with the best in modern music. The darkness, the bike and the music allow you to hide if you’re not quite at peak fitness. Which I am not. Perfect.
I was invited by a PR company, and was super excited to be there, but it was the kindness and even the connection with strangers I encountered there that struck me during the cycling sesh.
It’s easy to forget at times that Sydney was in full hibernation for 15 weeks. It is a long time, and even when I talk to my pals overseas – they don’t really get it. I try and say we have had no access to hairdressers, gyms, fitness classes, bars, restaurants, shops…and they all say; “Must have been hard.” And switch the subject.
During the long winter that was, we all dreamed of the day the doors would be flung open and we would step out into the sunshine and back to our old lives, but in truth, the whole thing has been daunting at best and terrifying at times.
Talking to family and friends is something we have all pined for and struggled without and longed for, especially in person, but it is the gentillesse des etrangers (the kindness of strangers) that I now realise as the biggest thing we lost.
It’s the guy or girl in the coffee shop you say hello to every second morning, or once a week, your hairdresser, it’s the workman on the site you walk by, the girl at Mecca you kind of know, the fitness instructor, heck it’s even the male barista who, lets face it can be the most consistent man in many Sydney single girl’s lives.
The power of strangers is huge, and it is what we have been robbed of most during this pandemic.So whilst things can be tough as we all reacquaint ourselves with the new world, there can be real joy and learning from listening to others, especially when we live in a culture of talking.
Research shows that conversations with strangers can ward off loneliness, and build a sense of self confidence within us.
And it’s as simple as collaborating with a stranger anywhere, any time, on a topic or shared experience – like eating at the same lunch spot, waiting in line, an overbearing noise. Whatever.
Try it, it will only be good for you, and is another way to move forwards into the new world after lockdown.