Do you ever see the same person over and over again as you go about your life? It’s strange, isn’t it? Do you ever wonder why you keep bumping into the same person? Or, do you ever go through periods of time where you don’t see anyone around at all?
I often spend time alone — as an introvert, I don’t mind it at all, and I often get my best ideas as a writer when I’m alone. I live in the Northwest Territories, one of Canada’s northernmost regions. The NWT is a big, barely-populated area. To give you an idea of how thin the population density is, consider this:
- The population of the whole territory is about 41,500 people.
- Everyone is spread over an area 1.34 million square km (~457,000 sq mi).
- That’s a little bigger than Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas combined, or in Europe, it would be France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands all together.
- According to Wikipedia, the population density of the NWT is 0.04 people/square km, which really means there are 25 square km for each person (9.6 sq mi).
- In most places, the population density is expressed as people per square kilometre, such as
– Washington state at 40 people/km2
– Illinois at 90 people/km2
– Italy at 198 people/km2.
So, hopefully you can understand how, as I drove 470 km (~290 miles) across the NWT yesterday, I hardly saw any vehicles. I met some oncoming trucks, but only saw one vehicle going the same way as me. After driving that way for several hours, I arrived at the Liard River ferry crossing. (Since it is so expensive to build bridges in most places — the Deh Cho Bridge is a recent exception — the government operates ferries to take vehicles of all shapes and sizes across.) As I approached, I was surprised to see a line up of six pick-up trucks in front of me. Where did they come from?
Well, it seems all that time I was driving, the highway wasn’t abandoned. There were people in front of me, just around the corner beyond my view the whole time. I thought I was alone on the road, but it turns out we were all headed in the same direction, spread out a little so we couldn’t see each other.
The same is true in life. Sometimes, when we’re going through a tough time, we feel alone, but we aren’t — we’re just all going in the same direction, spread out along the way. We all go through similar challenges and stages in life, but we just don’t do it at the same time. There are people with us on the journey, but we don’t always see them. There are people thinking of us and wishing us well, they just don’t come along for every step. Rest assured there are people with you on your journey — you are not alone!
During those times that we feel alone, we get to know ourselves better, and we grow stronger individually. We also learn to believe in ourselves and trust that everything will work out for the best. We learn faith — literally, believing in something we can’t see — when we realize we aren’t alone even though it seems that way.
And if you keep seeing the same person over and over again on the subway, maybe he/she is on the same journey as you — not just on the same subway! Why not smile and say hi?