When you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation or setup, your senses become alert. From a creative perspective, that’s a great way to experience and observe — to collect new raw material that can later be used to imagine and create new ideas.
In this issue, I invite you to experiment with three ways to be a stranger and experience new things.
Talk With Someone You Don’t Know
I know; we are told not to talk to strangers, but sometimes speaking to a stranger turns into an opportunity.
A stranger can be someone you’ve never talked to at work. She can be someone who has replied to your social post. He can be someone you just listened to in a podcast. We come across so many people in our lives, and we rarely engage in a conversation with them.
You never know what you will learn when you talk to someone you don’t know. It can be an anecdote that will trigger an idea, a story that will make you want to have a specific experience, or a piece of surprising information that will make you curious. Any person you talk with has a mind as unique as yours. The interaction between the two minds can generate unexpected creative insights you will never be able to generate alone.
Visit a Place You’ve Never Been In
You must know the feeling of stepping out of the airport in a foreign country you have never visited. You notice everything; you hear voices and sounds you don’t usually hear; you are aware of how the air smells. Your senses are alert and open, and you are flooded with information.
It is easy to recreate this experience without traveling abroad. Take a bus to a place you’ve never visited, take a walk in an unfamiliar street, or enter a building you’ve never been to. Turn off your smartphone and allow everything you see, hear, and smell to sink in. Be present, observe, and wonder at what you see, no matter how trivial.
Read a Book You Never Thought of Reading
You can be a stranger without even leaving home. Every book is a journey, but a book you’ve never thought of reading and you know nothing about creates a different kind of experience.
Pick a random book, preferably from a genre you don’t usually read. Don’t read the excerpts or the reviews. Just start reading. Embrace the unknown even if you don’t know where it will take you. Notice how it makes you feel, what triggers your imagination, and what makes you stop and think.