Lieutenant Geordi La Forge: Destination, sir?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: I don’t care. Let’s just get some distance between us and this system.
Lieutenant Geordi La Forge: Aye, sir. Course 9-7-0 Mark 3-1-8, speed… warp 3.
Commander William T. Riker: Where will that take us, Mr. La Forge?
Lieutenant Geordi La Forge: The Opperline system.
Commander William T. Riker: An interesting choice. Why?
Lieutenant Geordi La Forge: Curiosity. We’ve never been there.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Engage.
Every year, I spend some time in Puerto Rico with my organization, Abante International. This year after being in the island for a month and half, I felt that I had engaged well with the local community. I had visited and prayed for elders in the community, made soup for a couple of ailing ladies, and greet neighbors on my daily run with my colleagues, and on leisurely walks. I find I feel more Christlike, when I am actually engaging his creation, this includes, humans, animals, and nature. Serving those who can never do a thing for me is not a burden, it is perhaps one of the most beautiful things I can do, that proves to others that I serve a loving God.
I remember one specific day when I went for a short hike with a couple of friends. I wanted to show them a beautiful part of the neighborhood where the ocean meets the river. It is called Ojo del Buey, and it is located just a few streets down from our guest house. When we arrived, we met a young man ho was fishing with a net. His name was Fernando. This young man could not have been older than 18, and as we engage him in conversation him and asked about what he was doing, he shared that he had been fishing in this part of the island since he was a young boy, seven or eight years old.
I asked Fernando, if the fish ever get confused with the fusion of the sweet and salt water, and he responded that is not so much that they get confused but that they sometimes get pushed into the opposite side by the strong current. jokingly, I said, “can you imagine a shark getting pushed into this part of the river?!” “Well…” He responded. “That’s actually very common.” I did a double take. “Wait, what?!” He proceeded to share several accounts of him and others fishing, where sharks came into the river carried in the currents, and we are not talking baby sharks here. I asked him why he fished there with only a net and without any type of protection. He replied that this was the way he had been fishing since he was a small kid. The catch makes it all worth it, and the money he could make for selling his catch helps support his family. In the short 15 minutes we engaged Fernando, he threw his net out four times and every time, he caught fish and blue crabs.
The thought occurred to me that had we not engaged Fernando in conversation, we would have missed out on his story, which makes me appreciate the life of the locals who live off the land even more. It also scares me to think we may have gone swimming in the river ignorant of what could be in the water, other than small- friendly fish. That’s why I follow my own rule religiously, I will never swim anywhere where I cannot see the bottom crystal clear…Just saying.
I want to give you a few tips you can incorporate in to your daily interactions with people, to help you engage in a deeper way.
- Observe. When you spend good time observing, you will find great opportunities to engage in meaningful conversation through interesting circumstances.
- Listen. I often tell our students to spend more time listening and less time talking. You learn so much about people, when you take the time to listen to their stories quietly and without interrupting.
- Inspire. Always seek to bring out the best in people, rather than being judgmental, or feeling the need to debate them. Never leave a conversation with a person, without affirming them.
- Share. Talk about your own story, and interchange personal stories, funny stories, serious stories, etc. Find a common ground.
Finally, I want to encourage you to embrace opportunities to engage people as God-ordained moments in your life journey. View those unforeseen encounters as moments for growth and learning. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and into something new. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Talk with people you would normally not talk with.