As my friends and I were walking along by the road yesterday we were hailed by a lorry driver. The young lorry driver slowed, leant out of his window and, in a voice brimming with cheerful good-humour and tinged with an eastern-european accent, asked us “Am I going the right way?”
There was a brief and slightly confused pause between us before one of us asked “Where are you going?” He began to pull away again but as he did so he called back to us with a grin and a wave, “I don’t know!”
It’s hard to recount this tale and do any justice to the simple magic of this exchange. My two friends and I felt we had shared a wonderful experience, even if we weren’t quite sure why. Our day had been transformed from the mundane to something infinitely more special by a man who we only saw for a matter of seconds. You may find yourself thinking there must be something sinister about a man who calls to a trio of women from a lorry; in response to that I will tell you that he asked for nothing but a few seconds of our attention and he gave us so much more.
After he had gone we wondered if we should have directed him somewhere; anywhere? Where would he end up? The freedom of imaging that he might go anywhere based on the opinion of a stranger, that he might not have a destination and wouldn’t know when or if he reached it; this enchanted us. By thinking about him travelling off into the unknown our own destinies were drawn into focus. Were we going the right way? We could go anywhere. Going back to the office was suddenly only one of our infinite options. If we had all three of us announced that we would show him the way and clambered into his cab, would we too be headed for the great unknown? At once anything was possible and the enormous potential of our lives spread out before us.
Of course, we did go back to the office but I think each of us took and treasured the memory of this mysterious man, this lorry driving philosopher, and asked ourselves “Am I going the right way?”
We don’t know where we are going and few of us know how to get there, so why not stop and ask yourself (or anyone else you meet) “Am I going the right way?” and think of the freedom we have to choose our path when there is a whole universe around us.
Disclaimer: The blog author and her friends realise that the lorry driver probably does not think of himself as a philosopher and probably intended only to amuse himself for a minute by getting a little of our attention. No doubt he did not think that the nine words he spoke to us would change our lives, but you can’t always predict what effect your words will have on others.