I am in Boulder, Colorado this weekend. Before I begin rattling off my health insights, let me just say that Southwest Airlines may very well get its own Unexpected Health day…because if it had not been for our free ‘Companion Passes,’ my mom and I would not be here, enjoying the beauty and majestic of this mountain terrain. But here we are; a 2 and ½ hour plane ride away landed us in the Rocky Mountains. Of course, being the planner that I am, I did a little research before we came. I learned about the popular Pearl Street, which is a fantastic place for shopping, eating, people watching, and sitting in the sun. As we walked around Boulder, we finally decided to ask the locals what else we should see, which is how I discovered the Unexpected Health that makes friends when…talking to strangers.
In our society, we teach our children to never talk to strangers, because the result at times has been horribly unhealthy and tragic. But as we grow ‘in’, we become better equipped with a sensory gauge that warns us when potentially harmful people are in our path. Because of this awareness, we can be pleasantly enlightened and given some Unexpected Health tidbits from those unknown to us.
We were told to drive to the small mountain town of Nederland, approximately 20 minutes outside of Boulder…so we did. We arrived in this stop-lightless town and looked for a local coffee shop…which we found. As we started walking toward the entrance, a young guy invited us inside a house-like structure being constructed. My mom and I both hesitated, and sensing our hesitation, this 20-something-year-old assured us that it was okay and that he had something worth pulling out our camera for. We walked through the plastic tarps that acted as the door, across the flooring, peppered with wood shavings, and through another plastic tarp. All of a sudden, we walked into a large, oval-shaped room that housed the most beautiful, most unique carousel I have ever seen…and here it was, placed at over 8,000 feet in a town with a population of probably less than 400.
The story behind this masterpiece is that the young guy’s dad had been dreaming, planning and now building this structure for over 25 years. We later heard that the visionary behind the Carousel of Happiness (that is the masterpiece’s very fitting name) had been a Vietnam Veteran who, after seeing all of the tragedies and sad, wounded children during the war, decided he would come back to the States and create happiness in children’s lives. This creative genius had bought various carousel pieces from an auction at Coney Island, where a fire had destroyed the original carousel. He then hand-carved the animals and refurbished this circular play structure that has been bringing smiles to children’s lives for a century.
We can ‘see’ so much more in life when we talk to strangers. I am in no way suggesting that we strike up a conversation with the wild-eyed man having a full-blown conversation with himself on a street corner. But I do find that as we open up our hearts to those we do not know, we have an opportunity to gain much insight…much health.
Our excursion out of our comfort zones and into an unknown construction site led us to a visionary’s passion taking form. We heard a story today. We learned how one man took the tragedies he endured and is creating good—encouraging health—for the masses. So the next time you are interrupted by a stranger, be open to the possibilities, the story, you may be witness to. What’s so ‘strange’ about strangers anyway? Most of the time, they are simply people we have yet to meet. And even more of those times, these unknown people have amazing stories to share. –Until tomorrow, Jaime
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