Cross-Cultural Interaction, Travel tips

Where strangers are kindred spirits

I recently went to go visit my grandfather. While there, we spent a lot of time with his friends.

Towards the end of our visit, one of them casually asked if we’d gone to see the “Kindred Spirit” yet. Intrigued, I told her I had never even heard of it, and asked her what it was.

The Kindred Spirit is a mailbox on a remote beach in North Carolina. It was erected by local resident Frank Nesmith over 35 years ago.

If you want to find the Kindred Spirit yourself, here are some directions to help you get there. 

The mailbox is filled with journals, and a lone bench sits next to it. Travelers are encouraged to stay a few minutes and fill the journals with their thoughts and emotions. The journals stay in the mailbox, so future voyagers can look back and see all of those who have come before them.

The journals are filled with stories of purest joy, darkest grief, and deepest secrets.

“Every kind of emotion you can imagine is in those stories,” says local author Jaqueline DeGroot. It’s as if the safety of the scenery and the anonymity of the mailbox has given people permission to share what they would normally keep locked away.

I wasn’t able to make it out to the Kindred Spirit personally on my last visit. Yet it’s certainly on my list for next time. I just loved the stories tied into it, the lives that have been inextricably woven together by the simple act of choosing to share their thoughts with strangers. It’s something that I can’t wait to see for myself!

Over the years, the rising and falling tides, hurricanes, and other damaging weather have knocked the mailbox over again and again. Yet it always gets replaced. There’s something about it that deeply resonates with so many people, that makes it worth installing as many times as necessary.

Perhaps it’s the reminder that they live in a world where even people who have never met can be kindred spirits. That they have more in common with the rest of humanity than they think.

Do you know of other little hidden gems like this that help us better connect with ourselves and humanity? Let me know in the comments!


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