“Each Contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it”
As a youngster I used to sit inside a lot just playing computer games, trying to get the new gadgets. Since working was possible from the age of 16 where I live this wasn’t really a problem, students pay almost no taxes anyways. So I went on, wasted all my money on stupid things a new cellphone, laptop, … every time an upgrade was available I would get it. This resulted in whenever someone wanted to go out I wasn’t able to. In many cases this was very frustrating, even now it still is if that occurs.
This made me think back of a family holiday I had when I was about 11, my uncle married someone from a poor Ukrainian Family. They met while both working in Germany. After their marriage we got invited to stay with them for a month. I remember the spoiled brats we were and how most of my cousins and my little sister didn’t really enjoy it there. The toilet was just a plank above a pit near to the pig stable, they worked in the field a lot and they used the local river as a junkyard. Even though they were living in poverty one thing really struck me, they were happy. These people were just living life, enjoying being with each other and seizing every day like it was the last one.
Because we are from Belgium and were from a wealthy family compared to them we brought them gifts. We gave them tons of chocolate, a deep fryer, a washing machine and some other stuff they could generally use. After the first day I noticed something, they were giving us food not wanting anything back. The children got a lot of chocolate that we gave them. So even though they were poor they shared everything and just considered that the most normal thing in the world. This is something really beautiful.
When I was 19 I went to live by myself and I soon noticed it wasn’t easy. I went to get a lot of take out because it was easy. I wanted new stuff like furniture, clothes but whenever I got a lot of these things I noticed again that life is really expensive and that most thing you spend money on aren’t really something you need. It made me think back about our family vacation when I was 11 and at this point I decided this was not how I was going to live my life. I’d rather have less money and not get the things I don’t need. This way I’m able to spend it on new experiences.
One of the things I love the most is being and nature, and I only figured this out by simplifying my life. Now I tend to meet with friends, just sit outside in nature and have long talks. I noticed after only a couple of weeks how much more meaningful certain relationship became and after a while I started taking couchsurfers in the house.
For those people who don’t know couchsurfing, it’s a website where you can offer people a place to stay for free. In return you get feedback on your profile which can be either good, bad or neutral and by these ratings people can see whether you’re a trustworthy person. The concept is simple and you can use it yourself to meet new people, host people or get hosted in various countries around the world for free. This way you’ll meet locals and these locals are more likely to show you places you wouldn’t if you don’t have a local guide.
My first couchsurfers made me realize something more, even though I didn’t have a lot to offer to them they still appreciated every small gesture you did. We would drink tea together, cook, go around the city and much more. And in a small amount of time real friendships would be formed, which for me was a very strange thing to experience. How was I able to talk this deeply to a random stranger I basically met on a travelling website?
Then it hit me, people use phone apps and websites to meet others and expect to get something out of this. Whether it’s a friendship or relationship we tend to get something out of every contact with another human being. Couchsurfing had taught me not to expect anything, just go with the flow and enjoy the human connection at hand and I started doing so. I’ve met the most interesting people by now, I’ve done things with strangers I wouldn’t have done before and I loved this.
“Strangers are endearing because you don’t know them yet.”
In conclusion to this article I just want to tell you guys, that if possible try enjoying other people’s company and just go with it. In general people are good-hearted and you might learn a thing or two. It’s well worth it, I’ve never regretted doing so and it got me tons of new friends around the globe where I could just knock on the door and stay for as long as I need. Real friendships get formed this way, and everybody can give you these small life lessons that might change your view on the world for the better.