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25 December 2008 @ 06:33 pm
An Essay  
Be open. My personal evolution is constant, but this is a significant lesson. Open your home, your mind, your life, your heart. I started opening my home last summer when two French girls needed a place to stay. I went to meet them at the ferry dock and soon realized I didn't know who to look for. The throngs of visitors were coming and going, all apparently uninterested in going home with me. At that moment Sophie approached and introduced herself.
"But how did you know it was me?"
"You looked like you were looking for somebody."

She was right of course, in more ways than one. I've hosted near thirty people since, making valuable connections and sharing some amazing experiences along the way. It's all too easy to allow yourself to be closed off from others, especially if you've lived on an isolated island all your life. CouchSurfing has been a great gateway to opening up parts of me that had grown stiff from stagnation, impeded by self-imposed enclosure.

Much like all people I will meet, some are just passing through, leaving no great impact upon me. Their essence is remembered with a smile because I now know who they are, when before I was completely unaware of their existence. I suppose these could be spoken of as having "not so much in common with" and therefor being "not so easy to get along with" from one perspective. All that can be gained from this opinion is a more defined sense of what I find to be a comfort and how they are lack in supplying me with it. I look back to see that I was not open enough to appreciate them while they were here. Judging a person or an idea or an opinion, comparing it to my own and compiling a mental list of how they differ from me and mine, is a stifling pastime. Holding to any strong opinion stifles any true growth. Being open, endeavoring even, to understanding another often reveals the truth of common purpose. This practice is want to be applied in all aspects of interaction, too many of which are taken for granted every day.

I have also been lucky enough to develop friendships with a few absolutely remarkable individuals. I am touched and inspired by them, at times in awe. Matt threw his hand-rolled cigarette down, rejected my outstretched hand of introduction, and embraced me in the first "CouchSurfing hug!" of many to come. This lackadaisical artist rode his bicycle five thousand miles from Bellingham, Washington to Columbia, a fact I recall each time my legs ache defiantly on my commute to work. Matt introduced me to his traveling companion, Kai, who impressed with his tales of the previous 15 months spent in Asia, then impressed me more by opening my heart up further than anyone ever had, and nestling deeply in it for the winter. By the time Felicity and Maria showed up, I was a seasoned host. Completely vulgar, displaying blatant disregard for social norms, these two Brits quickly earned the Best CouchSurfers Ever title as they brought me to tears laughing and to tears begging them not to go so soon. Randy from Arkansas, an unforgettably reliable traveling partner who left me slack-jawed during our stay in Bar Harbor with a casual declaration, "You'll have to excuse me for a few hours tonight, I have to run 18 miles or so."

The remarkables have left along with all the rest, scattered across the globe, sharing themselves with the world as best they should. All have had a great impact in my personal evolution, and all this I owe to to a sandy colored website.
giaotran on December 30th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC)
hey do you mind voting for my picture? i'd really appreciate it. thanks a bunch!! :)