I had the chance to go to the circus last Tuesday, but I had to give it up. Here at the internet cafe, I ran into some guys from Kenya and we found each other interesting enough that we exchanged emails and they offered me a free ticket to their show, which was in Pukekohe until Sunday. Thing was, I’d already made plans to attend my friend Rosalie’s birthday party that night, and if I were to go the next day, I’d still have to hitch back to Vimutti, which is difficult to do after 5, and the show was at 7. Dang. But still…It was interesting that the opportunity even came up at all, through casual conversation.
One thing that I’ve come to realize in my short time being a traveler is the importance of social networking…Hm, no, not importance, but usefulness of it. It was something I’d mentioned to Mikhail a few times when we discussed him going out on his own…He was concerned about not having any experience in a new country all alone, and I told him that getting to know people and gaining support connections in a new area is not only good for building confidence, but having those connections is mutually beneficial for all involved. Basically, being able to know somebody, somewhere, who can help in a given situation, good or bad. And lately I’ve come to see that I am definitely "the guy who knows a guy." Ajahn Chandako was discussing how he wanted to get a Maori elder to come and bless the land where we’re going to be putting up a meditation hut in November, and I realized "oh! I know a Maori elder!" and passed along his contact information, easy as that. Ven. Jotipalo is writing a kid’s story that he wanted to go somewhere with, and I not only passed it onto my brother, who agreed to illustrate it because he’s an artist, but I told him I met a guy, Steve, in Auckland, who works in children’s education, who might be able to pass it onto some publishers he’s been trying to write for himself. It’s NOT luck; but rather, a social science, really. I think that a willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone and question people brings about the opportunities that make these kinds of things happen. Granted, talking to strangers far more often leads to conversations that dont really go anywhere at all, but it seems that its less about "good fortune," and more about simply making oneself approachable and friendly conversation. It’s the same effect one gets from visiting the same place repeatedly, getting to know the proprietor, and getting discounts as a result of familiarity.
But I think what’s equally important is being available when your friends need you as well; meeting your own obligations to the system because its give and take. A social web that’s purely take is bound to collapse. Ajahn Chandako passed onto me one of those little booklets of profounds sayings that normally I dislike because they don’t ever really stick with me unless they’re quite useful. But one did, and that was "Don’t talk gratitude, act it." And that resonated with me a bit, to open up even more and give a bit more to those who support me in my own endeavors in any way. Not necessarily giving in just the material sense, but in other ways as well. Say, giving one’s time, giving one’s understanding…Patience…Just little things here and there that remind others that you’re paying attention and do care. Keeps the network strong and encourages the system to continue, to mutual benefit.