The Amazing Adventures of the Traveling Advice Booth: Part Two
I spent the night before my experiment went operational at the local hardware store building my homemade advice booth. I decided to begin in Beverly Hills, and was feeling intense apprehension about my chances of success. The desert plains of Burning Man could not be further removed from the chic streets of Beverly Hills; however, my first customer was soon upon me and the nerves quickly subsided. A young lady informed me she was deeply in love with her husband but they were in a passionless marriage. I remembered being told that for a relationship to truly succeed a couple needed to find something to jointly feel passion for. They needed to take up something both of them loved. Maybe it was kayaking, photography, or cycling, but something to keep the flicker of love glowing. This is the advice I gave her.
The fact that a stranger simply listened intently and then offered insight into her life, I could see was satisfying to her. To me the beauty was not giving the advice, it was the connection felt in the moment between two strangers. Many of us feel unheard at times. Many of us feel isolated. The advice booth turned this on its head. It gave this person an outlet to air her thoughts and desires. It created an instant connection, which is crucial in our technology-fueled world—a world where communication options are all-consuming, yet how many of us truly communicate?
As I sat in Beverly Hills I had a steady stream of people come by the booth, including a 6-year-old boy who was worried he wouldn’t receive what he really wanted for Christmas. I suggested he go home and write a letter to Santa. Then there was the parking attendant who was of two minds about whether to take a new job as a park ranger. His dilemma was that the park ranger job entailed longer hours and he would have less time with his family, but it gave him far greater responsibility and a bigger sense of helping his community. I suggested he speak with his wife!
For me, the moments in the advice booth were the combining of two people’s souls, an act of connection that rarely happens in our daily lives. I was getting the chance to peek into the lives of others and try to give back in a small way. I was astounded to see how comfortable people felt sharing their lives with me; It was liberating for us both. The digital age has increased the speed and volume of communication, but it's robbed us of some face-to-face in-depth connections.
Read post three, in which Leon ventures out of Beverly Hills and into the Hollywood, Venice Beach, Miracle Mile, and Downtown neighborhoods of Los Angeles, next week.
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