Thank you, Mark Roemer, for this epic guest post.
“I’m on a 2 hour layover in Sacramento. Looking across the empty gate area I spot an elderly woman sitting alone in her airport wheelchair. I walk over and ask if she’d like some company. ‘Well sure I would, my name is Selma, what’ll I call you?’
Selma is 95 years old. Her voice is gentle, soft and shaking. She tells me about growing up on the farm in North Dakota, raising cattle and working the fields. She tells me of the big moves in her life, how much she and her husband loved each other and how she wished she’d had children of her own. We talk about the big stuff, you know the keys – the key to a perfect lemon pie (‘not to brag, but my lemon pie won over 11 others in the country fair so many years ago’) and the key to happiness – romantic love, family, willingness to change.
Selma then turns to me and says, ‘What about you, you seem happy. What do you think is the key to happiness?’ I tell her two things I know for certain: spending time with babies and oldies, and a willingness and openness to connect with strangers. She smiles and nods, ‘Ooh very good, yes that’s right.’
Selma motions for me to lean in closer. ‘This will be my last trip’ she whispers. I look into her bright gray eyes and I can feel how sure she is of this fact. We both acknowledge how grateful we are to have run into each other for a brief time. ‘You near the beginning of your journey, and me near the end of mine.’ She tells me that it meant the world to her that I cared to take time to talk to her. I tell her that I feel the same.
What a powerful encounter. Not at all random. I highly recommend spending a few moments connecting with a stranger today. After all, it’s one of the keys to happiness.”