23:01.Today, I did not have anything to write. The head’s been blank for some reason, even though I have a lot on my mind. I think I am falling sick. It may be the change in the weather or the lack of sleep induced by all the coffee I’ve been having. I dont know what it is. May be Delhi does not suit me?
I dont know. Irrespective. I had to write. And since I did not have any ideas per se to write about, I asked AaSi and ArAg (I use initials for people and I know a million people, so am now using the first two characters to be able to make sense) about what I could write about. I got a bevy of suggestions and I like all of those. I have safely cataloged those for the next rainy day when the ideas dry up. For the time being, I am going to talk about “the experience of talking with random strangers“.
So, it’s not even funny how many strangers do I talk to. To a point that I can’t recall names or identities or the context in which I spoke to them. And yet, rather than “consolidating” the relationships with people I know, I seek out more connections. I dont know to what end. But I do. And in today’s post, I will talk about why I do that.
So, I dont know when this happened, but among other things, there are three “ideas” that have shaped me like nothing else has. Let me talk about those and try to answer this question about why do I want to meet with random people all the time.
Here we go.
A. Luck = Opportunity + Preparation.
This essentially translates into creating as many opportunities for yourself as you can and being ready when the opportunities present themselves.
And this creating opportunities means knocking on doors that you know would not open. This also means talking to people that you know dont want to talk to you. Heck, this also means shooting out of your league.
As a result, you are often left with disappointment – who wants failures after failure? If you are always aiming too high, you would miss the shots! But you know what makes it worth all the effort?
That one connection. That one door that opens just a wee bit to let you whiff the opportunity peeking. Creating that one opportunity for someone you care for.
I mean all my life, each thing that I am proud of, even though they are insignificant – my book, the content websites that I support (TRS, PPP, ImmerseGo, GP, Podium, and more), this blog, all the people that I work with – all these may have been lucky breaks but they wouldn’t happen if I weren’t taking shots at opportunities.
In some cases, I was prepared and they worked out and vice versa. Heck, some worked out when I was not prepared at all. I faked my way through those. And some did not happen when I knew those opportunities were tailor-made for me! But in toto, my life is far far better than what it could’ve been if I did not take all those shots.
And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Because each person I meet is an opportunity. To do something new. To add a dimension to what I know. To add a perspective to my knowledge. And no, I am not objectifying people here.
B. The Cocoon.
Each of us is born in a certain lifestyle. If you are reading this, you are already privileged – you know English, you have Internet and you are safe in your respective cocoons. What else do you want?
This cocoon is a good thing and a bad thing. Because you are in your cocoon, while you are safe and hopefully comfortable, you hardly see the world on the outside. You can if you want to. But most don’t want. If you are trapped in a high-rise, you do not understand what is it to live in a slum. If you make 10,000 bucks a month kinda salary, you dont know what is it to have a million dollars at your disposal. You know, why bother?
It is similar to the prehistoric cavemen. If they were content with being in their caves and continued to be afraid of all the lighting rumbling outside, we would not know life as it is. They stepped out of the cocoon. And experienced more things. And did more.
And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Because each person I meet gives me two things. One, a warp zone that teleports me to a different life altogether and allows me a peek into the life beyond my cocoon. And two, if that person’s life is richer than mine (not just in terms of money but in terms of access, reach, opportunities et al), I am inspired to do more with mine. To be able to expand my cocoon till it engulfs theirs. And if their lives is poorer than mine, I am inspired all the more to not fall to where they are. And most importantly, try and elevate them to at least a level similar to mine!
So far I have been unable to expand my cocoon a lot but I do know of the lives that exist beyond mine (both on the higher side and on the lower) and that makes me more human, for whatever it’s worth. And to what end this knowledge serves? I dont know. What do you think?
C. Thick and limited. Loose and infinite.
The third thing that has left an indelible impression on me is these two distinct styles of living life.
In one, you can create really thick, strong, tight connections with a handful of people. You know, the kinds that you would die for? Often the ones you grew up with. And the other is where you have no strong connections per se but a really large number of loose connections. You are the guy that knows a guy that knows a guy that could get things done.
When I started to create my world view, I was always enamoured by the idea of ‘thick friends’ and how they went on these trips together and clicked pictures in their underwear and were always hanging out as one soul, multiple bodies. And truth be told, all my life, till recently, I’ve chased this. And since I’ve not been the cooler one, I havent got it and I’ve beat myself hard about it. And I, of course, have been jealous of the ones that have such friends.
However, over time, I realised that most friendships and relationships are guided by convenience, by comfort, by rationality, by opportunity. We merely rationalise these relationships. We are rationalising animals after-all. I mean think about it.
Thought experiment. Think about all your best friends. Didnt you all goto the same college? Or grew up in the same locality? Or work together?
Now, what if your life was marginally different? Instead of growing up in building A, you grew up in the building very next door, say building B. Would you be friends with the same people? In fact, out of the top 10 people that you spend time with, if you were in a different cocoon, how many of those friendships could you recreate? Get the drift?
So, thick ones are convenient.
The loose ones, you weren’t thrown at them by a random chance. You went out and sought them. Even if you grew up in a different city, you would have still found a way to make their acquaintance. And added enough value to them to want to add value to yours.
Thus, the loose ones are planned by you. Planted by you.
And unlike with the thick ones, the social obligation to spend time with them to make the relationships thicker is absent. So your conversations can actually push things forward. You know how sports teams, armies, business project teams, film crews, seamen, come together without any thick friendships and chase and achieve greatness? And how each person is often replaceable and the entire army doesn’t just crumble because one person is a group of 5 friends slapped another!
And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Well, to expand on these loose connections I have. In hopes that at some point in time in life, these would come in handy (you know, I would get lucky) and I would reach closer to my lifegoal. It’s that simple.
PS: Keyword is most. Keyword is often. I am sure true love exists. I am sure friends lay down lives for each other. But I am yet to have any of these happen to me. I’ve walked alone for a large part and while people have come and gone and helped me at various junctures in life, it’s always been the loose ones and not the seemingly thick ones. Most of my thick connections have been useless to me. The ones that were loose, the ones that I did not expect to be of any help, the ones I never thought I would reach out to, those are the ones that have been the most help.
And no, I dont mean to sound like I am cribbing or ranting. I do have a couple of people that I can goto any lengths for. I am sure there are some people that would feel the same about me. Lemme know if you do :D. I am merely stating an opinion and I am probably offending a lot of friends here.
The keyword in this part is most. Not all.
So yeah. That’s it.
I really love to meet random strangers. If you’d like to meet me, hit me up on twitter – that’s the best way to reach me!
Do let me know what you think of this.
Over and out.
The time right now is 0045 AM. Phew!