Life Coaching Tip: Unexpected connection with a “stranger” can create a heartfelt experience for both the giver and the receiver. This bond can feel both joyful and spiritual in nature. No matter your circumstances, I encourage you to open yourself up to the love that is all around you. Look for enchanting connections in every interaction, and let them in!
This story is about a man who my husband respectfully called “Wilderness Man.” This man walked his dog in the park around the same early hours of the morning that we walked our late-dog, Penny.
The Wilderness Man received his nickname due to his burly stature and the survivalist style of clothing that he wore. His avoidant nature, giving us reason to believe he was not comfortable around many people, also added to this persona.
While on our walks, we would typically hear Wilderness Man’s hound dog baying before we saw him, as the dog barked all around the park. Clearly, the pup did not share its owner’s social anxiety for he made his presence well known.
However, as soon as Wilderness Man would see us coming towards him, he’d dart off the trail and quickly pull his dog deep into the woods.
Sometimes the area he would go in would be thick brush, and I wanted to shout to him, “Oh, please! You don’t have to do that!” But there was never the opportunity because he was that fast.
Although I would wave and say hello every time I saw him, he would always turn his head and look away. It was obvious that he was uncomfortable with the interaction.
Then, one day, it all changed.
Shortly after Penny passed away, I was walking on the trail alone, filled with grief and sadness. When I came around the corner, I almost bumped into Wilderness Man who was walking with his unusually silent dog.
We both startled, but there was no time for him to flee into the woods. His dog started barking like crazy, so I put out my hand and asked if I could pet him.
Wilderness Man pulled his pup back and turned to walk away from me, ignoring my request. But when I said, “My dog recently passed away and I miss her so much. I would really love to pet your dog,” he abruptly stopped and turned towards me.
He then looked at me kindly, and said, “Sure. Don’t be afraid of his bark. He’s friendly and loves people.”
And it was true. The dog was very sweet and appeared thrilled to receive some of my attention.
On the days that followed, whenever I saw Wilderness Man and his dog, he stopped and let us say hi.
Then, a few months later, Wilderness Man and I spotted each other from the opposite far ends of the trail again. But, in a move that surprised me, he went back to his old habit and darted into the woods, pulling his dog along with him.
I felt rather sad about this, wondering the reason for the change.
However, a few moments later, I was surprised again when he hopped back onto the trail and began to walk towards me.
As we approached one another, Wilderness man said, “He (referring to his dog) wanted to go into the woods, but I reminded him that you were his friend, and you’d want to see him.”
Wilderness Man then flashed me a friendly smile and motioned for me to pet his dog.
I’ll tell you, my heart felt like it was going to burst open! This was true, authentic compassion. Clearly this man struggled with painful social anxiety, yet he was willing to override his uncomfortable feelings to comfort ME!
What a beautiful human being!
(Are you tearing up? I am as I’m writing this!)
I decided to share this story with you because it felt so meaningful to me. Unexpected compassion and connection with a “stranger” created a very spiritual experience that filled my soul with a joyful peace.
It’s such a great reminder to look for connection in every interaction and let it in to your heart. No matter your circumstances, I encourage you to open yourself up to the beautiful love that’s all around you!
PS – I’m not sharing the dog’s name in this story for confidentiality reasons, but I was formerly introduced to him during our first interaction. However, Wilderness Man has not yet shared his own name with me. I don’t refer to him as Wilderness Man anymore though. Now, I just call him “friend.”