We’re always told that making connections is important, but do we ever actually listen? It’s a new age, full of disengaged strangers stuck in their daily dose of scrolling as they wait in line for their morning coffee. Have we all developed an intimate addiction to an inanimate object, or do we bury our faces to avoid interaction? I’ve learned that it’s better to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of the endless connections around you.
When our car broke down and all we needed was an iced coffee to chill our nerves, my travel companion Dane, and I, stumbled into a coffee shop that we have yet to visit in the Santa Barbara area. As we took a seat outside to slowly sip on our drinks, we couldn’t help but notice a lime-green, 1969 Volkswagen van pull into the parking lot. Our curiosity and excitement was undoubtedly leaking through our mile-wide smiles as two twenty-some year olds stepped out of the van and sat down at a table right next to us. Dane and I looked at each other, silently debating which one of us was going to say something first. Before I could think of what to say, Dane turned around and said “Hey man, is that your van?” One topic lead to another, and within the next five minutes, we were all turned to face each other, learning personal details about one another.
Santa Barbara is known for it’s epic views and abundant rock formations. Our new friends were en route along the gorgeous Pacific coast with an end goal to ascend the most renowned rock climbing locations. Without any hesitation, they invited us to join. Although inexperienced, we couldn’t say no. When they picked us up later, we were met with a huge mound of harnesses, shoes, ropes and carabiners in the back of their home on wheels. They drove us through the Santa Ynez Mountain Range and showed us places that we’ve never wandered far enough to find. We hit Gibraltar Rock, The Brickyard and various other spots during our two days spent together. We ended our journey with a colorful vegan meal and then parted ways. Our adventure will forever be engrained in my mind as the spark that ignited my love for rock climbing and vintage VW vans.
Truthfully, I learned something very important through this experience that I will always hold onto for the rest of my life. One unexpected interaction and two bright smiles lead to something exciting and novel in my life. Instead of checking our notifications on social media, we decided to engage with two amazing strangers. Although we may never cross paths with them again, people have a way of lingering in your mind. The memories we hold onto are made beautiful because of the people in them. Cherish that, and aim to make more connections with those around you. Any random stranger may hold the catalyst to a new dimension in your life.