Have you ever been on your own wondering in a town, a city or countryside? Imagine being lost and somebody comes up to help you out, explaining your route or maybe offering some water, tea or a ride.
Imagine this feeling. You’re lost, insecure, uncertain, maybe stressed out, not knowing if you will find your way again. Unsure maybe if you will have a place to sleep tonight, and just when it gets dark, suddenly a stranger appears and helps you out.
While traveling I depend on the help of these strangers. I hitched over five thousand kilometers, and waited for strangers to pull over and to give me a ride at least eighty times during this trip.
Equally I was also dependent on strangers for a place to sleep. I never stayed at a place where I was a customer, using money to get a bed.
But I still did the accommodation thing the ‘easy way’, through Couchsurfing and other hospitality exchange networks I was able to stay with people who offer their place and hospitality for some days and nights, sometimes for more than a week.
Knowing there are always strangers who can help gives me the feeling of never actually being lost. Knowing how to trust these strangers gives me a lot of confidence: there is always someone out there who will bring you further. In fact, the more ‘independent’ I make myself, with moneyÂ and taking up the consumer-role for example, the more fragile I actually may become as I may forget how to trust strangers.
Before this trip I used to think I was more independent if I would be able to take care of myself completely. It would give me confidence not to have to go and ask anyone for anything, but to have all the resources at hand myself: my map, my food, my fuel, my car, my money.
Now I know the world works better the other way. If you know how to make yourself dependent on strangers, while traveling, you have more confidence and your needs are less.
Plus, the feeling when helped by a stranger is something you may remember for a lifetime. I still remember clearly – though ten years ago – how an Irish farmer helped me out as well as two of my buddies while hiking in the South of Ireland and a storm was about to fall over us. He helped us down the hill where later in a hostel we learned a rescue-team was looking for some other people who were lost in those same hills.
Strangers can leave a deep impact on your life. Independent of how small it may be for the one offering help or giving something, for the one in need it leaves a deep positive mark.
And all this reminds me of one good song of a band formerly know as Moondog jr. “Shall I let this good man in?”