I probably mean this in a much broader sense than most people who see this goal in my list think I do – I not only mean the way I approach new people, expecting there to be no ice to break, thinking there’s already a connection between every human being on earth – but really treating everyone the way I would treat a friend I’ve known for years.
While I was waiting for a taxi at the airport at 01 am, there was a couple next to me who was calling through hotels trying to find a place to stay for the night before catching the train in the morning. For a moment I thought about saying they could stay at my place for the night if they wanted to since they seemed okay and I’m generally good at figuring out quickly whether someone is to be trusted or not. I didn’t. Maybe some think it’d have been crazy to have strangers I know absolutely nothing about stay in my apartment, but they were clearly good people so it made me think why I didn’t open my mouth and offer them to stay at my place, even though it’s highly possible they’d have declined. I’d have done it if they had been my friends – why act so differently just because they were strangers?
In Finland especially I often feel like everyone is in their own little world where strangers aren’t invited and even a kind gesture is often unwelcome. The separation between people feels particularly emphasised here – the distance between two strangers is so long it can be almost impossible to get through, yet it could be so short it wouldn’t have to exist at all. I’ve thought about it – what if you could travel to a new city and know for sure you’d get a place to stay just by asking? What if you could go to a restaurant and sit to a table full of strangers and be as welcome as you would be if you had known them for years? What if you could stand in line in a grocery store and ask for a hug from a stranger in front of you and get it? Of course things like that can happen even now, but they obviously aren’t the norm.
What if they were the norm? What if there was almost no difference between a stranger and a friend? I’m sure not everyone would like the world to be like that, but I know I’d love it, and I want to do my part in making the distance between two strangers shorter.