Building Bridges

The North Sea //

“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” – Joseph Fort Newton

My “Uncle” Bill (again, not actually sure how we’re related) quoted me this today.

I’m back in the Netherlands, today to the North Sea. After the last five weeks in suburban Europe, the smell of ocean air was salty heaven. It only took eight months of living in San Diego for me to fall in love with waves, sand and sea. I don’t know how I lived my life without it, really.

For what little time we’ve shared over two brief visits now, I’ve had deeper conversation with Bill than most people. He’s the kind of person you talk to and he lays out stepping stones – he builds bridges. People like that you just fall into conversation with and you actually talk. 

The art of conversation is so lost. Social media leaves us in the shallows, and real life rarely gets much better. We ask “How are you?” in passing without actually wanting a real answer and when we do talk, it’s rarely more than just who’s doing what with who. When we do occasionally peer up from our phones, we’re just stating facts. We don’t actually listen, we don’t actually talk, and we don’t actually connect. We leave conversations exactly the same as we were before.

Lately, I’ve tried to change that and people like Bill continue to show me how powerful conversation can be.

As soon as I started truly living as if there were no coincidences, suddenly there were none. It takes a gut check sometimes, but actually reaching out to the people around me to find out why we belong together in that moment has turned my life into a live movie. I’ve gained more value and insight from conversations with strangers in the past few months than I’ve gathered on my own in a lifetime.

Take out your headphones and start a conversation with the woman next to you on the plane. Get off your phone and ask the guy across from you in the train how his day is going. Unplug from the outlets of the walls you’ve enclosed around you and start building bridges – that’s how we cross the waves.

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