One of the pleasures remaining to us of a certain age is to have unplanned encounters with hitherto unknown fellow humans. I have to admit that this is a relatively new experience for me. When I was younger, I tended to avoid coming into contact with strangers for several reasons.
I am by nature a solitaire, quite clumsy in using the various modes of getting into and keeping social contacts. To that has to be added a slightly paranoid affliction – stemming from my early childhood experiences, no doubt – which shows itself in fearing my integrity being threatened or being manipulated by people I am not familiar with. Fortunately, age has whittled away most of these concerns.
This process of liberalization took off when I went on my quest to California, back in 2010 and thereafter. People in the US, especially in California, are very easy to address and I got a lot of interesting and warming contacts, whilst busy with documenting student life and city life in Berkeley and its surroundings.
Since then, I am trying to maintain the good habit of opening up to other human beings. I even have gone so far as to invite readers of my website to contact me and seek counsel, if they feel the need for it. To date, only one person has taken me up on that offer – in the four years the website has been on Internet – but I am glad to say that it was to mutual benefit. I could help the person carry his thesis project through, in view of difficulties to communicate with his thesis adviser – quite common – and we keep having pleasant lunch meetings ever since.