When two becomes one... (Cups 8 & 9)

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about starting that one off with a Spice Girls reference – though, I figure being here in the UK, we can let it slide... right? And I guess too, knowing that this particular phrase is a lyric of the 'spicy' variety I may have given away the fact that I used to be a fan. Odd isn't it - the things your 11 year old, male self decides to take an interest in...

And now that I've embarrassed myself - let's get on with it, shall we?

As I mentioned previously, some rather sad circumstances led to a last minute trip back home to Vancouver, Canada. I was feeling torn about it – perhaps because being removed from all the emotions flying around at home was likely making it easier for me to cope with the loss  – but I knew that going back was something I needed to do, if not for myself, then for my family.

A few weeks prior to all of this, I had received two separate emails (or tea-mails, as they shall henceforth be called) - the first was Robyn of Delta, B.C. (who came to me through her boyfriend Chris, an old friend of mine whom I have not seen in some 4 or 5 years now); the second from Marianela – a girl living in Vancouver with a project of her own – to approach one tattooed stranger each day and, pending their cooperation, take a picture of the tattoo and ask for some explanation about it's significance. Neither Robyn or Marianela had asked to have tea, directly anyway – what with the distance and all I suppose – but I knew when I booked my flights late Tuesday night (to fly out Thursday morning) that I needed to take advantage of the opportunity that the sad circumstances had provided me.

I met Robyn first, on Monday afternoon, at a small tea shop on Broadway and Granville, appropriately named 'T'. I was excited to meet with her – in part because it had been so long since I had last seen Chris, and having spent a good portion of my adolescent social life with the guy, I suddenly felt a little bit sad that it had been so long since we has last been in touch – the bigger part of it however was because of the story Robyn had to tell.

You see, Robyn has (whether she realizes it or not) done something a lot more meaningful in her time on this earth than most other people will ever push themselves to. In an effort to support a cause close to her heart, and I suppose too, to honour the memory of a friend she lost under tragic circumstances Robyn spent 8 days of her life trekking to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (the tallest freestanding mountain in the world!), and in doing so, raised $12,000 for charity. For someone with a strong dislike for anything that closely resembles hiking or camping – this is an especially impressive feat.

As Robyn and I spoke, I couldn't help but reflect upon my own life, and the things I have done with my time. I can admit that most of my actions, however hidden they may be behind good nature and selflessness, offer some degree of personal benefit. This isn't a bad thing, I don't think – we as humans have a necessity to consider potential personal gains in the interest of survival. But I do think that after meeting Robyn, I'd like to do something more to benefit others in need – regardless of the direct benefit to myself. Though, thinking about it now, I suppose that the act of being selfless will inevitably bring the individual in question some personal benefit at some stage – be it related to success and wealth, or simply the good feelings associated with thanks and recognition...

Here is where things get interesting though. At this stage in the conversation, I made a decision to try something completely new to the 100 cups project. Unbeknownst to Robyn, the clock was ticking on our meeting. Marianela – the girl who meets strangers with tattoos – would be waiting for me at 2:00pm not too far up the road at a cafe called 'Pekoe'.

“You don't happen to have any tattoos, do you?”. Robyn looked a little confused, being asked this when the conversation up until this point had nothing at all to do with tattoo's. Lucky for me and Marianela - her answer was yes.

I was stepping out on a bit of a limb here – but I wasn't finished with Robyn yet, and it just didn't feel right to cut the conversation so short in the interest of getting myself one cup closer to one hundred. And anyway, I could make cup number nine just that much more exciting for Marianela, helping her on her own quest to meet strangers – I would be bringing her two instead of just one.

Robyn jumped at the chance, which was cool – somehow, that alone made me feel that in my own way, I was already having and effect on the way that people think. I guess it's not so hard when the people I am meeting tend to have views and ideas similar to my own, but still – I was creating a meeting of strangers that went beyond what any of us had gone into that day expecting, and it felt great.

Robyn and I joined Marianela a short while later – and she seemed genuinely excited to see two of us, rather than just myself. Within minutes, the three of us were talking, sharing the nature of our respective projects, telling stories about our lives, about growing up, and about learning to live in a world that is always evolving and changing (but not always in the best of ways). It became apparently very quickly, the power behind something as simple as speaking about positive change. You see, I believe that anybody who wants to do so, can change the world. All it takes is commitment – and a willingness to be open about your ideas. It takes one person, to share one idea, with someone who agrees with them. The willingness to share, and a commitment to keep on sharing – that is where change comes from. Share your idea with enough people who are willing to get on board and support you – and you might just have a revolution on your hands...

And so the three of us talked, and our commitment to positivity grew. Over the course of three hours, on a fairly typical Monday in Vancouver, three complete strangers, all with our own reasons for doing so, came together over a cup of tea – but as we walked our separate ways that afternoon ( and I know Robyn and Marianela would agree), we left united, somehow. United in the quest to continue bettering ourselves, for it is by doing so that we can influence others to do the same.

It's been said over and over – but for some reason, it seems fitting today to quote the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The questionable nature of certain aspects of his personal legacy aside, he put it quite well when he sang, 'If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change'.

I don't know about the rest of you, but the man I see when I look in the mirror lately seems pretty happy there sipping a cup of tea – I think I'll go join him, in fact.

(A little side note: Robyn is a writer, and hopes to craft her thoughts and ideas into a book – if you care to follow her progress or learn more about some of the great things she has done – check out www.nomoremountains.wordpress.com)

(On a second side note: Go to www.astrangeraday.tumblr.com to read about Marianela's adventures approaching strangers with tattoos. You can also read her thoughts on our cup of tea there!)

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