Tag Archives: Human Interaction

People make life interesting

During my time in high school, I was not the most social person in class. I didn’t really fit in with the two camps at my school.

At the one side, you had the popular kids. They played (field) hockey, wore shirts with their collars, smoke and drank, and dated each other.

On the other side, you had the alternative kids. They played in bands, dyed their hair yellow or green, smoke and drank, and dated each other.

I took my own course, alone, or interacting with the other pupils who where a bit in between the camps. I kept in my comfort zone, and if it wasn’t necessary, didn’t speak to people I didn’t know.

An encounter with F.

But that was high school. Let me tell you about an encounter I recently had.

I was sitting at a bar with some friends as a girl approached us and asked whether she could join us. She had had a bad day. At the bar, to a bunch of strangers she just met – us – F. told the story of her life.

F. had a bruise in her face. She had been hit by her boyfriend. They had spent a long time together, but recently he had turned violent. F. knew she had to leave him. At the same time, she wasn’t sure whether she was a ready to end it. There was a lot that connected her to him; the fight had broken her spirit but not her heart. A punch in the face is painful, but love can hurt even more.

On the outside, she had a good life. She only worked a bit for fun and personal interest. Otherwise, she was taken care off . Her lifestyle was rich, with frequent trips throughout Europe and money available for shopping sprees anytime she desired. In her early thirties, F. still enjoyed her life, going to crazy parties and doing whatever she wanted. Her friends looked up to her, admired her. And she couldn’t take it any longer. F.’s life, I think, had become artificial. It had to be changed.

The value of ephemeral encounters

It was a tense conversation, and an important encounter for her as well as for me. As I wrote above, in my days of high school I wasn’t very open to people. Now, I realised that I was able to engage in a deep conversation about all important parts of life with a person I met some minutes before. I gave her some advice, and I hope it helped her a bit. But it also helped me to reflect about myself and about human interaction.

Here in Brussels I regularly meet people only for a short time, and still have extremely interesting conversations. Initially, I used to think that these meetings are useless. I used to think that if a good level of contact is achieved, a seed of friendship should be made flourish. But I am starting to change my mind about this. Friendship is a great thing, but there is also a beauty and a value in ephemeral encounters. One nice chat for an evening, and than life goes on, each with their own friends, dreams and hopes.

Into The Wild

There are two ways I could finish this story. One is by referring to a Dutch poem, Aan Rika by Piet Paaltjens from the 19th century. It’s about a guy who sees a girl for a split second, when the train she’s riding is passing his. He gets dragged away by the moment immediately, and fantasises about both of them being destroyed by the colliding trains. But this is not a story of love or destruction.

The appropriate end to this story is a different one: the movie Into the Wild. The hero of the film, Alexander Supertramp, travels to Alaska alone to live a life of isolation, close to the nature he loves so much. The trip has moments of reflection, beauty and sincere happiness, I think. However, at the end of the film, Alexander realises an important lesson: happiness is only real when shared with others.

Is there anybody here?

Regardless how happy you are with yourself and your own life, it’s other people who make life truly worthwhile. Whoever they are.

Into the Wild