What does it mean? To engage?

More and more we hear the word engage.

· Engage your audience
· Engage your users
· Engage social media

Engage is more than that though. And engaging is probably the most important thing we can do to become better people, foster new friendships and contribute to a peaceful society.

My best pal Duggan and I were up at Gunn Lake just north of Pemberton this past summer spending a few days fishing.  Doug, and his family, have a beautiful place on the water, and for over 20 years we have been going up there to fish, drink beers and generally be boys.

On our first afternoon, while waiting for Doug and his family to show up the next day, we had a great afternoon of driving around looking for places to catch our traditional dinner of rainbow trout, but this year the rivers and lakes had swollen to levels not seen in decades due to the late spring and el nino.

Our favourite place, Mowson’s Pond was impossible to fish, and sadly we went back to Doug’s cabin.  That evening after a big dinner consisting of tofu burgers for Duggan and porterhouse steak for me, we started talking about how our own generation, Gen X, seems to have lost the ability to do anything other than Facebook each other.  Lost in a quagmire of mobile phones and tweets, our Gen X and Gen Y we decided, are losing the basic grasp of communications on a personal basis.

Duggan admired that I was always upbeat and speaking with people who I didn’t know.  How was it that I could do that and why?  Simple I told him.  Engage people randomly.

Huh?  Was his comment to that.

I told him to wait until the next day and I would give him a demonstration as that would be better than trying to explain it.

The next day, July 1st as it happened, we found ourselves in the lovely hamlet of Gold Bridge; population 46.  Having spent the morning trying to stay warm, we decided to go for lunch at the local hotel.  The fare wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  The cold spring had meant that the tourism business in the mountains was suffering, so we didn’t get the freshest of food.  But the hospitality of the folk who call the mountains their homes, more than made up for it.

As we came outside, there was a gentleman about 60 years old or so watering the plants about the entrance to the hotel.  He looked like a refugee from Haight and Ashbury circa 1967.  Clad entirely in purple with purple beads adorning his neck, a scruffy looking beard and a purple earring in his left lobe, he was clearly a man who was happy in who he had become.

I commented to him, “is it July first or November first?” in reference to the brutal cold that we were experiencing.  He laughed and sure enough we got talking. 

Now it’s important to understand that I am a small c conservative, and that in many of my circles, even talking to such a character would get you sideway’s looks from peers.

Well, within five minutes, Jesse, our new hippy friend, had told us about a fishing spot that was on fire!  He showed us what bait to use, how to get there and even offered us a couple of fish he had caught that morning. 

20 years we had been coming up here and we had never heard of this fishing spot.  Within a half of an hour, Duggan landed the first fish at our new ‘secret spot’.

If I hadn’t randomly engaged, we would have not had trout for dinner.  And we would have never met Jesse.