Love is for sharing...

Hey friends!

For those of you awaiting a post about cup # 14 - my chat with Quentin on 4ZZZfm here in Brisbane, Australia - the wait will not be much longer. Quentin and I will be getting together soon to catch up, and he will bring for me a copy of our chat so that I can share the whole thing with all of you who weren't able to tune in online, or here in Australia just the same!

In the mean time, I have been having a look around at the websites and blogs of all the wonderful people who have helped spread the gospel of 'tea & strangers'. Many of them have joined me for tea, others have found inspiration in the project, and some have plans to carry the torch in their own way - what they all share, however, is a willingness to share their thoughts and ideas with the world, and I am grateful for the friendship and support of each and every one of them!

If you have a chance, have a poke around - you might find something you like!

Rea from Sydney, Australia sharing the love!

Marinaela from Vancouver, Canada with the 'A Stranger A Day' project - Check it out!

Mark J. Winter from London, UK - Sharp fella with great ideas!

Jason Simon @ Caffeinated Conversations - Seattle, Washington - The chronicle of 2 years worth of conversations with strangers & all his thoughts to go with them!

Becky Murray - a good friend from Red Deer, Canada - always on the hunt for adventure!

Robyn Thomson from Delta, Canada - Cup # 8 and Drunk Baker...

Julie Maclellan - Friend & Journalist from Burnaby, Canada with stories for you!

Antwanyce Richardson - Spreading the love out of Maryland, USA! Thanks Antwanyce!

100 Cups takes on Australia!

That's right everyone - 100 cups is heading down under!

This Friday morning, I will be sitting down for a cup of tea with Quentin Ellison of Brisbane's 4ZZZ - 102.1 FM! Quentin hosts Friday mornings 'Divers-A-Tea & Talk' - from 9am until 12pm - I will be joining him in the studio from 11am (Brisbane Time) to talk about the 100 cups project, what I hope to accomplish by meeting all you strangers out there, and to have a cup of tea, of course. I might also help Quentin pick out some jams...

For those of you who want to have a listen - click on the banner below and choose your listening platform! If that doesn't work for you, head to the 4ZZZ website, and click the 'Listen Online' banner at the top of the page.

I know the majority of you are not in Australia - so I will post some local times below - though, if I don't post yours, this link should set you straight!

Vancouver/Seattle (Pacific Time) - Tune in at 5pm, Thursday, December 16th.

United Kingdom (if you fancy a late one) - Tune in at 1am, Friday, December 17th.

If anyone else wants to listen, but is having trouble figuring out when you should tune in, please email me and I will let you know what time you'll have to put the kettle on! I also hope to have a copy of the show to embed on here eventually!

Talk to you all on Friday!

Is 100 miles too far to go for a cup of tea?

(Cup # 13)

It's cold out. My toes are frozen, and I can't feel my finger tips as the punch away at these very keys. But that's okay. It's brilliant in fact...

I am sitting on a Chiltern Railway service from Leamington Spa to London Marylebone - and hoping that on this 2 hour long journey I might be able to grab hold of my thoughts for long enough to assemble them in to something understandable - inspirational too if I am lucky. Hopefully, this cup of tea will help.

I set out from London this morning - braving the madness that is London transport when two centimetres of snow fall on this lovely, overdramatic, and terribly unprepared city. It wasn't as bad as I had imagined it would be however, and I made my train with relative ease. I am one of the lucky ones no doubt.

Josie Sawers had emailed me last week inviting me up to Leamington Spa - a town about 100 miles north west of London, a town I only knew existed because a man named Dave Gorman lives there - supposedly anyway. The trepidation has left me now, giving way to a sense of excitement - which is comforting. It shows me that I am becoming more open - more willing to connect with people - and that, after all, is more or less the point of all this silly business.

As I sat on the train, I was plesantly surprised to hear friendly conversation between people who I can only assume had never met before. I sat alone, anxiously awaiting whoever would take up temporary residence in the seat next to mine - watching a Jamaican gentleman talk to a South African; an old woman to a young one. What a friendly bunch I had joined!

I, however, got the 'tired guy'.  We shared an exchange about the validity of our tickets, and our whether our choice of seats fell in line with the requirements of our tickets - but before I could dive into any sustainable conversation, my new friend began to nod off. He did look awfully tired.

I stepped of the train in Leamington Spa in search of a lady in the 'red puffa coat' and a black hat. She stood just outside the gates as I exited the station - only she was wearing a 'red puffa vest' and a black 'toque' - in an effort to avoid being presumptuious, as I often am - I walked right past. Now, don't take me for a rude individual - I just need some sort of assurance that I am approaching the right person, and the vocabulary with this one threw me off a little is all. After having a quick look outside the station for puffy red coats and black hats - of which I found none - I walked back in said and said hello to Josie.

As we left the station, she wondered aloud how we missed each other there - knowing I would have just walked past, and surely wouldn't have missed her red coat and hat, being that there were only about 3 other people waiting at the station - none of whom wore a red coat, or a black hat.

It is funny, isn't it - the need we have as humans to feel confident and secure. I mean, it makes sense, sure it does - but walking past the only lady around in a 'red puffa jacket'  and a black hat, to ensure that there was not another one waiting intently just out of site. Perhaps that was just my way of taking a moment to collect my confidence and bridge that gap between strangers. It's getting easier, but I still have some work to do I suppose.

Josie took me the long way through town, offering me a brief tour of Leamington Spa, as we walked to The Clarendon - a local pub close to Josie's heart. A second home. A place that has accepted and embraced her. A place that, after a long night on the piss, will pour you a pint of tea with a double shot of rum - without any judgement at all.

My hands began to sting as we walked - but I didn't care much. I was about to have cup number 13, and I felt incredible about it. I was walking through a small, snow dusted town I would never have stepped foot in otherwise. Talking with a complete stranger who was just as willing as I was to embrace the connection that we all have the potential to create.

Some ladies played scrabble as we sat at the couches across from them. I wonder what they would have thought of our meeting?

As it always seems to be with like minded individuals - the conversation between Josie and I came easily.  It was comfortable. Josie understood. She understood was I was up to, what I was trying to achieve. But what really set Josie apart from the other 12 cups was her willingness to challenge my ideas - her willingness to disagree.

I have long assumed that the state of the world as it is today - ever consumed with self service and automation, ridding itself of the necessity that is human interaction. A world of people who live in isolation, who close themselves off, socially speaking - I have assumed this to be a product of itself. As we advance our ability be more time efficient, we subsiquently remove ourselves from human connection - simply put, we don't talk to other people because we don't have the time. We create for ourselves a social circle, and it's size can fluctuate - but we tend to keep it comfortable, and save ourselves for it. Outside of that circle, we shut our mouths, and mind our business.

Josie can recognize that tendancy in the world - but she believes it is simply the way we have always been. An interesting perspective...

Maybe we fulfill the social needs that we have with those people closest to us - and isolate ourselves from the people that we don't know in an effort to survive. We create a comfortable and somewhat isolated existance (most of us anyway) so that we can feel confident that what we have create is safe, organised, and controlled. To open yourself to those who live outside your social boundaries runs the risk of allowing someone foreign to disrupt the controlled social environment that you have created.

Maybe, being isolated is the way that humans have always been in an effort to survive. It makes sense.

What do you think? Is our tendancy towards social isolation a product of our push towards time efficiency and a result of a lack of necessity? Or are we just socially isolating by nature - have we just always been that way?

With that said, Josie is as willing as I am to challenge the social trends, regardless of their origins. She sees it, however,  as an effort to challenge our DNA - striving to live in defiance of our genetic social predisposition. Either way, I will continue to meet strangers, and I think Josie will too - regardless of whether or not it's a push to recapture the human connection we used to embrace, or a quest to break free of our social genetics.

After 2 cups of tea, lunch, and a mulled cider - Josie and I took our leave from The Clarendon. She left me today with an invite to return, a promise of a warm bed that my girlfriend and I could share, and a night out. I said my goodbye's to the barman Matty, confident that I would see him again for a cup of tea and a night on the town in Leamington Spa.

As Josie and I walked back to the train station, talking of the potential for change, and the ability, and perhaps the responsibility that we all have to embrace it. There really is so much potential in the world today - and sooner that we realize that and get talking about it, the better off we will be. If all it takes is a little bit of friendly conversation to change the world, its a wonder that so many people are afraid to open their mouths.

What is your mouth doing these days?

Josie and I have ours wide open...

Do you need me to call an ambulance?

(Cup # 12)

His car had been idle for almost 10 minutes, and even from my  place behind the bar some 30 feet away, I could see that the pain had gotten worse. I approached the car to ask, yet again, if the guy needed me to do anything - I could see the answer in his eyes even before he opened his mouth. Both his legs were cramped; he could no longer move his hands; his face was tingling; and he was having trouble breathing...

My heart began to race a little as I ran back inside and reached for the phone, carefully dialing - one 9, followed by a second, and then a third. There is always a strange excitement in situations like these - people can't help but watch, curious minds are like that I suppose. But there is a responsability that goes with being the person who dials those 3 numbers - and in that moment, a transformation occurs. You are no longer a curious bystander. You are involved. You are part of it - whatever it turns out to be.

In my case that day - I had no idea what it was - I just knew that this guy needed a hand, and I had a responsability to lend him one. I ran back out to the car to let him know that the paramedics were only a few minutes away, and did my best to keep him calm, which is an interesting thing to have to do when you're doing your best to keep calm youself.

'So... Hows... work?'

Brilliant Greg. Brilliant. Ask the guy having a panic attack in his car how work is going. I'm sure that exactly what he'd like to think about right now...

What he said next though, caught me slightly off guard.

'You aren't from Canada, are you?'

I was slightly surprised that he placed my accent so easily.

And with that simple question, Lam and I now had common ground. He had been to Vancouver even, and as it turned out, he would be headed back to Vancouver in a few days - or, that was the plan, before I jumped in to call him an ambulance.

The paramedics had arrived - and I while I had been relinquished of my responsibilities, I walked back inside my work feeling a strange sense of dissapointment. Soon, Lam would be on his way to the hospital; his car would be towed; and I would be left wondering what ever happened to the guy. That's just how it tends to work...

Not today however. I wasn't going to leave it at that.

I wrote a quick note to Lam - telling him that it was a pleasure to meet him, to enjoy his holiday in Vancouver, and to shoot me an email to let me know how everything turns out. Passing the note off the one of the paramedics, I had done all that I could not to let this connection escape me. I put my chips on the table, and all I could do was hope that whatever health issue he was having wasn't too serious, and that he wouldn't think it too strange to drop me a line.

Three weeks later, he did.

His health scare, and a much needed 3 week holiday in Vancouver behind him, we met at a pub around the corner from the spot we first met to catch up. Or really, I guess it was to meet properly for the first time.

Lam and I talked over two cups of Earl Grey, and lunch too. He shared stories of his trip to Vancouver, I shared stories of my travel's in Vietnam (where Lam's family is from), and we talked, like friends do. About anything that came to our minds. About our lives. About our careers. Our goals and aspirations. Our travel plans. About all those normal, everyday kind of things that any two people could sit down and talk about, if they wanted to that is... It didn't seem to matter to him, and it most certainly didn't matter to me, that weeks before this, we had no knowledge of each other's existance.

For a meeting born of such chance, Lam and I really did connect on quite a few levels. How funny it is to think that had he stopped his car on that fateful day, only 20 feet before, or 20 feet further along the street - I would not have been able to see him out the front window of the restaurant; never would have known that the guy needed a hand; and I certainly wouldn't be sitting here beside my bed, at this very moment, sharing the story with all of you.

By the end of our meeting, I no longer felt as if I had met Lam as a means to step closer to the goal of 100. I felt as if I had sat down to lunch with a good friend. An old friend. It all began to fell so normal, so much so that I forgot to snap a picture of the two of us. Forgot entirely that meeting Lam for lunch had anything to do with my quest to meet 100 strangers...

Lam and I met up again a few days later, for a cup of hot chocolate, and to grab that photo of course! I can't help but feel, yet again, like the simple act of making the most of a meeting born of chance and circumstance, I have emerged with another new friend. Someone who may very likely play an important role in my life.

It all started with a '999' call. But a note scribbled on a piece of paper, and a couple emails later - it has become something so much more. That willingness to connect has brought Lam and I friendship - one that I am confident has the potential to enrich both of our lives. And, it may even lead to a cup of tea in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - but that story will have to wait. Though, not for long...

(The view of Kuala Lumpur from my hotel window)

I hope I don't miss my flight...

Cup # 11 has been weighing on my mind for a few weeks now - and I think it's time I share it with you. Not weighing on my mind in a bad way however. Weighing on my mind in all the best of ways - forcing me to engage my thoughts and aspirations. To refine my ideas. To adjust my approach...

To reach out...

I guess meeting strangers for tea may fall under the 'reaching out' blanket - but I need to reach further. I will continue to sit down for tea with all of you of course - but I need to stir things up for all the people who have thoughts and ideas to share, whether they wish to sit down for tea with me, or not.

You already know that I spent about a week at home in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy London - I'm learning to love it even - but there really is something about those first steps off the plane back home... The familiarity is difficult to put in to words - maybe it was the anticipation, but even the walk through the airport felt incredible. And trust me when I say that the journey through customs is not one that I generally look forward to...

Taking advantage of a wide open and sunny Monday afternoon in Vancouver, I tackled cups 8 through 10 - but you already know about Robyn, Marianela, and Julie, don't you...

Tuesday passed by - filled with last minute errands, dinner with my family, and a much needed cup of Tim Horton's coffee with one of my best mate's, Matt - a reminder that time and distance do very little to the friendships that really matter in life. 

As 2am passed us by, it seemed appropriate to call it a night. We said our goodbyes, as if we'd be seeing each other much sooner then we likely will. I drove the long way home that night - taking a moment by myself to soak up every last bit of home that I could. Home is doing just fine without me it seems - but the familiarity and comfort that it all holds seems to be doing just fine as well.  I got back about half past two - feeling tired but refreshed, ready to take on life in England once again, but finding comfort in the fact that home is, and always will be waiting for me.

A quick check of my emails and I would be off to bed to rest up before my flight. 

Or would I...

Waiting for me in my inbox wasn't quite a request for a cup of tea - but it might as well have been. Justin Sudds - a talent managers/agent with S.L. Feldman & Associates - had written to me. His agency is largely involved in the Canadian music industry, representing the likes of Michael Bublé, Elvis Costello, Rush, The Barenaked Ladies - some of Canada's finest musical offerings really... I'm not one to drop names normally,but I need to you all understand my excitement here. After years spent in pursuit of a career in music, I know what it's like to vie for the attention of the likes of S.L. Feldman. They represent the big boys. And all little boys want to hang with the big ones someday...

Anyway, that is all besides the point. The opportunity to meet with Justin and hear his thoughts on the project was sitting in front of me. I had a plane to catch the next day - but something in me couldn't put this cup of tea off. I emailed Justin back, proposing that we meet the next morning. I would wake up early and head down to Granville Island to meet him - an hour for tea and a chat - and just enough time to drive back home, throw the bags in the car, and head off to the airport.

Luckily, Justin was keen on the idea - so was his colleague Adam McIssac it turns out - and a 10:30am meeting was set. 

Justin met me with a warm handshake, showed me around the office a little - or around his workspace anyway. Chatting as we waited for Adam to finish a phone call - I tried my best to hide my excitement as Tony Bennett grinned down at me from one of his platinum records hung on the wall. If you had told me after cup number one that having tea with strangers would soon have me standing in the offices of Sam Feldman - I don't know that I would have believed you.

Justin, Adam, and I took a short walk across the street to Starbucks and settled in to a cup of Earl Grey and some conversation. I don't want to paint this as a business meeting, because it was far from it. The ideas that Justin and Adam shared with me however, have changed the way I am looking at all of this. This is quite the journey for me, as you know. Meeting strangers, sharing thoughts and ideas. And with the challenge to be more open, I am opening myself to the many opportunities that these new connections may lead to. The truth is though - I want every single person who reads this to be part of my journey - regardless of whether or not we sit down for a cup of tea.

We, as humans, have a unique ability to affect each other. We all do it, whether we take the time to recognize it or not. We interact constantly, and our actions have a subsequent reactions. Change is constant, but we all need to look at the ways we interact with one another, and consider whether the change we inevitably create is positive or negative in nature. The personal reasons behind my quest to meet 100 strangers should be evident by now - but there is another side to all of this that Justin and Adam have helped me to grab hold of - and the other side has everything to do with all of you. 

I have tea with strangers because I want to push myself to be more open. To be willing to embrace the people I pass on the street each and every day. 

But I share my stories with all of you because, more than anything, I hope to inspire you to do the same.

Alone, I am a just a silly boy, travelling the world to have tea with strangers. But together, we could be a movement. A global phenomenon. 

Look at the way you life your own life. How do you see the world, and all the people in it? Do you believe that your actions affect others? Do you have any ideas to share? Could you stand to be more trusting? More accepting? Less judgmental? 

I know I could...

And so I left my meeting with Justin and Adam with a new energy about me. My adventures aside, I have been inspired to take my broadcast to the next level. I want not just to tell you about my adventures, but to engage you. I want to invite you all to share with me. I want to hear stories about strangers who have changed your life. Stories of how simple things, like a cup of tea and some conversation, have changed the way you look at the world. I want this all to be as much about you guys, as it is about me, and the 100 people I will eventually meet...

I had one other question for Justin that day, being how he discovered me, and my quest to meet 100 strangers, for 100 cups of tea. Turns out, his wife knows Robyn Thomson. The same Robyn Thomson who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. The Robyn Thomson who met me for cup number 8.

Funny how these things happen... isn't it.

And before I go, I have one last question for all of you... 

If you woke up one day, and realized that you had the power to change the entire world for the better - would you?

Yes? Good, then you're still with me.

Now, are you ready for the best part?

You have that power. We all do. It's called our voice. We can use it for many things. But the most important is conversation. Through conversation we discover common ground. We create mutual respect. We develop relationships. Conversation leads to inspiration. Inspiration leads to opportunity. And opportunity, to change...

So let's get talking...

Let's change the world.