I’m reading the Necessity of Strangers by Alan Gregerman, which argues for the value of strangers in your life, because of how they open your horizons. The author points out that everyone you meet initially is a stranger, which is certainly true, but what I really like about the book is that it advocates that what strangers provide you is new perspectives that challenge how you think and what you do. And I think that challenge is essential if you want to experiment in a given discipline. As I’ve written before, one of the reasons I am able to experiment with magic is that I keep myself open to a variety of perspectives that fall outside the traditional occult disciplines, because I find that such perspectives provide me different angles through which to examine magic and my processes. Those different perspectives are what keeps magic relevant and fresh and provides opportunities to evolve it.
Such perspectives can be found in books and other materials, but also through meeting other people. One of the reasons I like to meet with people outside of my usual sphere of influence is that it provides me an opportunity to get new perspectives by learning about them and how they perceive the world. I may or may not agree with them, but even if I don’t agree it still provides me different insights and ways to experience the world, and those insights are critical for experimentation purposes. Indeed, one of the reasons that I like my day time business is that it provides me lots of opportunities to meet with people who don’t share the same sub culture interests or beliefs. I feel that such contact enriches me and my practice of my magic because I’m not just meeting people I agree with or people who share similar beliefs. I’m not keeping myself in a bubble that has everything I’m familiar with, but instead challenging myself to experience something new, even though what is new and different may not fit inside what I already know.
Sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of times it doesn’t. When I work with people that hold different beliefs or values, it can be uncomfortable, but that discomfort is good because it challenges the safe, conventional perspectives I have. Such a challenge is needed in order to keep a person grounded in my opinion. When you get wrapped up in your safe, conventional world view, supported by everyone around you, you lose touch, because you aren’t challenging yourself or your views. You aren’t staying open to new ideas or to discovering what you might not know. All of this is needed in a person’s life, and I think in his/her spiritual practice as well. We see all too often the dangers that occur when a person is isolated from contrary views. S/he can become a fanatic fundamentalist, convinced that his/her way is the only way, Such a perspective leads to a dulling of the person.
So what are you doing to meet strangers, to keep yourself open to new perspectives?