How much do we really know about the people around us? Probably not as much as we think or should. I am not advocating becoming a busybody and I, of all people, am a staunch believer in a modicum of secrecy – even in our closest relationships, there needs to be a whole realm that belongs to us and us only. All this emoting and sharing of feelings and experiences has gotten a bit out of control .On the other hand, though, we tend to quickly brush people off and rush to judgement with very few pieces of the puzzle that make up a whole person.
While listening to friends and family sharing in the memories of a life well lived during a memorial service for a friend, I was struck by how little I knew of his life outside of work, mainly because I never took a particular interest. I realize we cannot spend our day asking questions and probing into the lives of everyone we come in contact with but something else happened recently that made me rethink my approach to the “other”. I accidentally found out that an employee whose behaviour was getting on my nerves lives in a one bedroom apartment with his divorced Russian speaking mother (a language not in high demand in Los Angeles) – he is looking for cheaper accommodation as he is the sole breadwinner, while trying to find enough money to also have some fun. He is barely 25. I probably wouldn’t admit it to his face but I am cutting him some slack.
People who meet me for the first time hardly ever think I am warm and fuzzy. Words rhyming with witch might have been used at times but I always felt that, at least, no one ever had to wonder where they stood with me. As I get older and soften I increasingly stop to ask if I know where I stand with them, not because I necessarily care about their opinion but because there is an interesting (and sometimes unexpected) depth to most people who, in different shape or form, walk alongside us on this funny path of life. At last, the gifts I appreciate more these days are the ones far removed from the material plane. Won’t say no to a pair of Christian Loubotin (my birthday is approaching..) but a smile on a grim day will do just fine.