November 08, 2015 - Matt

November 08, 2015 - Matt

It’s been sometime since I went out and met a stranger, specifically to connect with for TSP2014. For various reasons; life, work, depression, speaking engagements, television, the internet. But the truth is easier. Less that I have to remember if I just tell the truth. 

The thing is, do I always tell myself the truth? The answer is no. But it gets harder as I get older to ignore it. It’s no longer as easy to push things aside and pretend I’m not feeling any particular way that I am, in the moment. Or reacting to something based on what’s going on in my head, not my heart. 

Reacting. I guess the blessing is I can no longer lie to myself the way I once did, with ease. When my apartment is getting a bit untidy, or dishes need doing. If my laundry pile is no longer confined to the laundry hamper. If I'm not eating, or sleeping well. These are signs that something is going on, or more so, not going on, in my world. 

Some days, it’s more work than others. That’s my challenge, right now. 

Accepting and remembering that the growth and change I’ve experienced in the last two years has come about, mostly because I've put in the work. Some days, I still just want an easy way out. I share all of this not to gain sympathy; it’s my experience, that I’m sharing.

I’m in the best place I’ve been, in years. I have to be aware of my 'lazy' self. Find the balance between me time, down time, and wasting time. 

I was filming with a local news crew last week (should be out this week…), and I spotted Matt sitting nearby. We were in Yaletown overlooking the marina, and just as we got started, the ‘Vancouver Mist,’ as I call it, started to moisten everything. We weren’t under any cover, and nor was Matt. I’d hoped he’d stick around and perhaps chat with me, but figured he’d leave before we were ready to move from where we were. 

I was happy that the 'misting' didn’t seem to bother Matt. With the camera crew out of sight, I approached him and asked if he’d chat. There was no time between my question and Matt’s answer. “Yeah, sure!” I then explained that I’d also want to take his photograph and that there was a news crew following me, and they’d like to film some of our conversation. “I’d love to be on the news,” he said, smiling. I sat next to Matt, on the concrete stairs, not caring that it was raining.

Because of the time constraints of the news crew, I let Matt know that while often conversations could go for twenty or thirty minutes, this would be a brief chat. Once, I chatted with a stranger who is now a good friend, for 90 minutes. Matt was no less enthusiastic. 

“I was born in Calgary. We moved to Mission, before I was even a year old,” he said. Matt has one younger sister. “She’s about three and a half years younger than me. I remember her being born. As the older brother, I’ve always felt that I had to make good decisions. I figured she’d probably look to me as an influence, so I had to think about things that I did.” 

We talked a little about his school days. “It was okay. I liked it more when I got to high school. Physics was my favourite subject. I did well.” 

Matt now calls Burnaby home. “I moved down to the city. I like to come down here and sit by the water, and see people. Mission was a good place to grow up, but I like the city,” he told me. “I live in Burnaby, but I come down to Yaletown, and it feels nice just to sit here. The water, the view. It’s nice to watch.”

After working in retail jobs, Matt, who’s 28, is now considering going back to school. “I want to get into addictions counselling, and mental health. There’s a course at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). I’m hoping to get in soon,” Matt said.

The typically damp mist, had, by this time turned into actual rain, and both of us were getting wet. Had it not been for the news crew, I would have suggested we grab a coffee, somewhere indoors to continue our chat. I took Matt’s photo, and made sure he knew where to find TSP2014 on Facebook. We shook hands and Matt quickly hurried away, no doubt to get out of the rain.

Even in this abridged encounter, meeting Matt, a complete stranger, still had the familiar sense of connection that I’ve experienced throughout the last two years of listening to the stories people share with me. I felt a little bit taller, a little bit lighter and happy to have once again, connected with someone I didn’t know. I walked away fro our conversation feeling like I had being chatting with a friend. 

When I got home, a few hours later, Matt had already sent me a couple of messages, telling me he had enjoyed our chat!
#notastranger