I remember this two-hour train ride somewhere from Connecticut to New York. I was talking to this guy about Philippine cacao beans and da Vinci’s mood swings and weighted-average cost of capital, and there was a moment when he was looking at me with this silly expression of ‘this person is really cute’. I kept thinking about it because I wouldn’t understand how someone would look at me that way, especially that I just spilled coffee all over this stranger’s suit a few minutes ago; and more so because he was listening with great intensity as I was talking about something so mundane as corporate finance.
I collect stories of spontaneous encounters and treat them like fairy tales. Once I got up the train, I knew I would never encounter the soul again; but there is something so romantic about fleeting moments. It makes me feel more human; brief reminders that I will never be in complete control of life and fate. At the same time, fleeting moments make me feel immortal; I would be forever entrenched in someone’s memory when I taught them something, when I was young, curious and feisty.
“People are impermanent. Remember this and you’ll be just fine,” is well tattooed on my mind; something I say to delude myself.
What a naive way to protect myself. I don’t think I believe in it, anymore. Having been around the world and back–in solo travel and spontaneous trips–you meet so many people but realize that authentic connections rarely happen in life.
People come and go, but that’s alright. Every human encounter touches another’s life story–whether they stay or not–you will never be the same again. Maybe it’s okay to be a little selfish and want them in your life for a longer while.