I stopped in front of a lovely gentrified downtown building just before 9:00 am. A very attractive and somewhat harried guy in his 20s showed up and put some luggage in the car.
“I gotta make a couple of stops, ok?” “Sure.”
I thought he meant that we were going to stop somewhere in route along his destination. Instead, he went across the street to get something and then returned to the building, perhaps to lock up. I’m not sure.
I won’t forget this moment. He sat down with a shoebox by his side. Brown, maybe black, dress shoes – not in his suitcase, Separate, last minute packing decision maybe. ‘Something about taking a business trip to Tennessee.
And off we went. “Headed to West Chester?” He replied yes in so many words. He was meeting up with his boss there and then they were headed off together for their trip.
Landon is the kinda guy I like to get to know. He’s a true Minnesotan: kind, respectful, gentle on the eyes, ears, heart, and mind. I felt comfortable speaking with him from the time we got out of downtown and headed north on I-75. He’s the sort of person I truly enjoy traveling with as an Uber partner.
How does a chat become a conversation? I don’t know. I think it happens when two or more people willingly open up and try to learn from one another. It takes caring and connecting. Gabe Nies coaches people to, among other things,
- Be Real
- Meet People Where They Are
- Take People on a Journey
- Create Transparency and Be Clear
Uber may be perfect for such conversational pilgrimages if the people traveling with one another are attentive to what’s really taking place in the car.
The trip allows people to get real while they are traveling. Most of the time, the application lets both people know where they clearly are headed and when they are going to get there. It’s just a matter of connecting and creating a relationship, even if it’s only for a few minutes. That’s a different sort of pilgrimage.
I’d add one other suggestion about meaningful conversations – do you desire true connections between yourself and your neighbor? Well then – let God get into the center of your heart and words, however you might understand such spiritual openness. Give life a chance to provide learning that will last well after the fare has been concluded and Uber shares your feedback with each other. Be human, show up, take risks, come into the arena of saying something without your smart phone.
Landon was gracious enough to share some of his story with me. He’s got alot going on – first job after college, long distance relationship with his girlfriend, spiritual and professional inquiries, personal and external expectations. I truly was impressed with the balancing act he’s striving to accomplish. And, I pondered, what wisdom, if any, might I offer him. Maybe it was enough to listen with my heart as well as with my ears. I’m not good at just listening. I need to work on that skill. Instead, I inquired as to whether or not some of the expectations he was wrestling with were more of his own making and choices.
I suggested that he check in with what he believes his life’s purpose, goals, and objectives. He seemed to welcome that advice. Landon really seemed interested in sharing a meaningful conversation. I appreciated that trait in him. I’m sure his close friends and family members do. Integrity and being integrated in mind, body, and soul receive a whole lot of street cred from me. These virtues go far with almost anyone.
It probably was about halfway into the trip that Landon indicated that he had been a English Literature major in college.
“Landon, What would it be like for you to become the author of your narrative?” I asked. I gazed at him in the rear view mirror when I said it. Each and every one of us has an important say in what we do, who we are, how we shall be human. That’s what I heard us talk about anyway. The word “control” came up. I felt uncomfortable with that word. I’m not sure that Landon felt the same way. That’s ok. Our experiences and expectations differ from one another. It’s a topic I’d like to converse with him more about should I ever have the opportunity.
Julie Beck writes: “In the realm of narrative psychology, a person’s life story is not a Wikipedia biography of the facts and events of a life, but rather the way a person integrates those facts and events internally—picks them apart and weaves them back together to make meaning.” (Beck, August 2015, para. 6).
I think it’s helpful to craft and edit our narratives when we open ourselves up to someone we trust and are willing to travel along with their ideas, their stories, and their insights into who we are. I don’t suggest we should engage in such conversations with just anyone. I do think our soulful intuition invites us to seek out such connections. Again, Uber or some other delivery system with short-term time allotments and longer-term implications may be just the sort of sacred space for such sharing of narratives.
I dropped Landon off at a Starbucks. I asked him for his business card because I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to blog about our 25 minute pilgrimage. He graciously gave me one. There’s that better than average Midwest guy thing again. I helped him gather up his luggage and shoe box. The shoes kinda jostled around and fell out of the box. Landon tidly put them back in and closed the lid.
It seems only appropriate in a metaphorical way that Landon is carrying a lot of stuff in between destinations. I hope those shoes are comfortable. I pray he’ll, with God’s help, keep traveling graciously in an integrated manner.
Landon and I are now “friends.” Facebook makes it so, at least virtually. I’m confident he’s going to be well, succeed, go places, wholeheartedly. Why? Well maybe it’s because he’s got the Minnesota Nice thing going for him. Maybe it’s because he is young, white, male, good looking, smart, and so on. He does possess those characteristics. And, what I learned from him and what I wish to share with you is: Take time to be a pilgrim, even if it’s only for a 25 minute trip from Point A to Point B. Be willing to (re)find the pen(s) that you are using to write your personal narrative. Open up, when it seems right (write). Let God (The Divine, Essence, Yahweh, Allah, The Dao) get smack dab in the center of your realness, your journey, and your vulnerabilities.
Thanks for the ride Landon, hope to converse with you more when our paths next intersect.