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Meeting The Strangers That Become Your Life-Changing Friends: A Tribute To My Friend Ray

I wrote this post several months ago, but until recently, I for some reason wasn’t ready to start writing publicly again. I recently said to a few friends that maybe it’s time I get back to writing for The Mad to Live, and it only feels right that I start with this piece. Now, more than ever, I mean these words. The person I wrote this for, and who inspired this piece, my good friend Raymond Brown, was in a terrible car crash not long ago, and suffered from traumatic brain injury. He’s on the road to recovery, and he’s a fighter. He is one of my dearest friends, and someone who I love so much and who I’ve kept close to my heart.

Here is a video for him that his family made, and you can send your love, prayers and help at this website. http://www.Pray4Ray.wordpress.com

Ray and his mom

Tell you friends you love them. Stop and say hello. Or just send a text to say you’re thinking about them. Don’t ever let it go unsaid how much someone means to you.

– Love Laur

Today’s post tells a story about how and why people come into our lives. It’s about friendships that change, complete, and fulfill your life that merely started off as 2 strangers crossing paths. This post is about the adventure of chance meetings, serendipity, and what 2 people who at one point didn’t mean a thing to each other and would one day become an essential part of one another’s lives.

Hey Stranger,” was the first thing Ray said to me when he met me for coffee this morning a little over a year after we first met.

At times I find it hard to believe it’s been that long since we actually did start off as strangers. But then again, at other times I wonder what I was doing to fill that piece of the puzzle in my life that he’s been for me.

The interesting thing about strangers is you never really know just what kind of impact they’ll have on your life: good or bad, short-term or long-term, romantic or platonic.

I met this once-upon-a-time stranger at a local cafe here in St. Augustine Beach, Florida. We were both regulars – the kind that show up early to do our work and stay till close even on a Saturday night – and one day he placed half of a bagel covered in honey on my table next to his.

We’ve been friends ever since.

When you make room in your life to let strangers in, you make room in your life for the great adventure of people and of friendship. In my opinion – this adventure is just as exciting, as daring, as capable of helping you grow as the adventures of exploring the hidden gems of earth on our travels.

When you meet anyone for the first time, be it in line at the store, a dinner party you’re the guest at, or in your local coffee shop, you’ll have no idea if they’ll be someone you will later call one of your oldest friends.

You won’t know their history, and they won’t know yours.

You won’t know if that friendship will out last the hurtles of time and distance and change that all friendships eventually do.

You won’t know if one day thirty years from now you’ll recall that brief conversation with that stranger that magically changed the way you viewed how an aspect of the world worked.

And so today I sat next to Ray and we got into talking about all of what’s written above. It’s a feeling I’m sincerely grateful for to be able to look this good friend in the eye who was once a stranger, and to have him look me right back in the eye, and we tell each other we’re thankful that we came into each others lives.

Some people – they just get you, ya know? It’s almost as if you’ve known each other forever. Or maybe it’s more like you don’t need to spend that extra 5 minutes explaining why this or that happened because somehow they already get it. There’s this basic and fundamental understanding there. And that’s what I have with this once-upon-a-time-stranger.

It’s sincere. It’s open. It’s accepting. It’s nonjudgmental.

Each and every person that comes into your life comes into your life for a special reason. The people that put us through hell are just as necessary as the people who help us open doors we never knew existed or we weren’t strong enough to open just by being a positive presence in our own lives.

For me, only a few months after Ray was just a stranger who spent way too much time in coffee shops like me, helped me get through some of the most difficult times I’ve ever gone through in my life. And he did that not by being some sort of nurturing cushion trying to act as a remedy, but just be being my friend and being in my life.

Some people, just be being with them, somehow help you make sense of any mess, help you remember that ‘everything is going to be okay‘, and help you remember what it’s like to not be sad or angry or hurt or scared if at least for a brief moment.

And it turns out, that along the way, I was the same thing for him too. We were two strangers that ended up having each others’ backs.

Somehow, we both filled a gap in each others lives.

And it all started with the simple, kind act of a stranger sharing ย half of a bagel with another stranger.

 

About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, Iโ€™m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what weโ€™re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

Share with me what you're getting into that matters to you. It could be stepping into entrepreneurial pursuits, embarking on a journey of the self, making a crazy life change, or even if you're totally stuck. I want to connect with, support, collaborate with, and learn from as many people as possible through this blog (that means you!) Click the *Share* link in the main menu and let's connect by filling out the form.

"What you seek is seeking you."

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  • Carole

    Be kind to strangers, for they are your friends in the making.

  • Liu Bin

    More than 2000 years ago in China, Confucius once said, “What a great pleasure it is to have friends coming from afar!” I must thank God for at least one thing, which is that I met you when in Beijing, despite the vast Pacific Ocean there between US and China ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey Liu! Thank you so much for such kind words. I can say with the weight of 2,000 years that I’m so thankful to have met you as a friend. When I think back to my time in China, you’re one of the first things I see, and then I smile. ๐Ÿ™‚
      – Love Lauren

  • Kristy B

    Lauren,
    When I first met you in Marleen’s office, I remember thinking “who is this girl? And why is she acting like she knows us so well?” lol. I can laugh now about it, but I must admit I mostly laugh because unlike you I was once closed off to strangers. Maybe once you were like I was and so you get what I’m saying. I’ve come a long way since then. I have Richard Carlson and The Four Agreements guy to thank for that. ๐Ÿ™‚ lol-and Tom too. I’m so glad I was able to meet you again to see that opening up to strangers can be great. You are such a lively, genuinely caring soul. I like that about you. I hope we keep in touch.
    ~K

    • Hey Kristy!!!!
      What’s funny about when we met in Marleen’s office is I was staying there because Ray was helping me out in a big way – it was a super tough time for me, and they were letting me stay there a few nights while I figured things out. Usually, one of the only things that makes me feel better is just talking to people, strangers or not, because it gets me out of my head! haha. And then strangers become friends, and friends, well, we all know how great friendship is! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thanks you so much for the sincere comment, and putting a smile on my face Kristy.
      PS – I love how you called Deepak Chopra the “Four Agreements guy” – that’s classic haha :oP

  • Besky

    I agree so much with this post, I had a really odd experience. I have a few mental illnesses and the night I thought I might kill myself, I went to the hospital but I couldn’t walk in I got hesitant and tried to walk to my best friends house instead. On my way I ended up getting chased by a car so I sprinted at least 5 blocks and when I finally stopped running I was crying and panicking from what happened and thats when I met my stranger that changed my life. He came up to me and asked me if I was okay, I was to out of breath so I just sat down and he sat 4 ft away and told me he would wait until he knew for sure I was okay. Well I ended up asking him for directions to my bestfriends house and we walked the entire way together and the whole time we talked. He was the only person I had ever met my entire life that was exactly like me. It almost freaked me out the quirky things we had in common. We opened up so much to each other and he knows more about my real personality than my mother. It was such an odd timing for him to come into my life on what I thought was my last day. It was almost the universes way of taking care of me. But meeting someone with the same perspective in life as me is what kept me going. It’s almost as if I was always searching for someone like him without evening knowing it until I met him. Some form of familiarity. I never asked for his name, I just accepted that this is the role he played in my life. But meeting him gave me hope that I’m not the only one of my kind. Meeting such an eccentric stranger made me realize I never wasted time on all the other people who don’t understand the same things I do. And that this entire time I shouldn’t of been feelings like such an outsider for all my odd characteristics instead I should of been working on myself and with time the right people would come into my life. He was the person who made me truly believe that maybe things would be alright. Which why I’m so amazed that I’m not the only one who’s had such a surreal experience with a complete stranger.