By: Dwayne Parton

A Conversation with a Stranger

I’m sitting in Starbucks. This is normal. I go there to work and get a mocha with 1/2 the flavor. Then an older man asks “Can you watch my computer?” “Sure.” I say and he goes off to the restroom. This is normal.

When he comes back, the computer is just like he left it and he thanks me for watching it. This is normal. “I appreciate you watching my computer. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they respond. By their facial movements. I appreciate that you didn’t just role you eyes, but genuinely meant it.” This is not normal. It was a nice complement though. I sat there smiling and thanked him. It wasn’t a problem to watch his things for just a moment.

“So what do you do?” We talked about my work for a few minutes and I offered him the adjacent seat. He began to tell me some about himself, his interests, and what he did but I don’t want to focus on that part of conversation even though it was good. I’m writing this because of the question he asked me.

“So what is your driving force?” I looked at him for a moment and said while shaking my head “I just want to…” He interrupts me. This is not normal. “Now you know when a person says something and they are shaking their head they aren’t really sure. So tell me again, what’s your driving force?” I pause and wait. I won’t shake my head this time. Instead, I say ” I dunno, I want to…” He interrupts me again. This is not normal. “Now, that’s a good answer. ‘I dunno.’ That’s a fine answer.”

I’m thinking now. I was going to say: “I dunno, to find my ‘driving force’. To find something that really gives me passion.”

In spite of the interruptions, I like this man. Mainly, because I think he wants people to tell the truth and the answer could be whatever as long as it was genuine. We talked a lot more about this and then got into some other topics, but what’s sticking in my head is. “What is your driving force?” It was the way he posed the question, how he almost rudely prevented me from giving a half baked answers. And so, I spent the rest of the day thinking and…this is normal.

“What is your driving force?” I feel like I’ve been catching glimpses of it for a while but haven’t figured out quite what it is. That’s part of the journey though. Figuring out what it is. Not settling for what someone else thinks it should be. Finding what really thrills your soul to the point of conviction. That could be anything or many things. Hmmm.

The people who most impact me are the people I feel are no more or less than themselves. It’s a journey to find that, and that journey may be the most important part. I think it lasts a lifetime, but some seasons it may feel a little more clear than others.

So now what? I’m still thinking. This is normal.