Friday, October 12, 2007

Driving Miss Philosophical

I have always been possessed with a wondering mind. I have looked at people in the cars next to me, or passing me in the shops and wondered at their stories.

I think of myself, of everything that has happened so far to make me who I am, and I wonder who they are - the service girl at the Deli who smiles as she hands me this week's purchase of meats and cheeses; the librarian who sits behind a sign declaring her chemical sensitivity: "Please no scented lotions, hairsprays, or perfumes" as she runs my books over the magnet; the mother pulled over at the side of the road with a flat tire and the officer taking the spare out of her trunk.

Driving home, it came to me like a bolt of lightning, this thought.

Every person is amazing. Although not each one realizes it; maybe they have become so used to the circumstances of their life that they can no longer see it. Is that the definition of humility?

On Tuesday, I met an extraordinary person. Had I not spoken to her, had I not been interested in learning more about her, and listened - I never would've known it. Had I gone on and on about myself, I would have missed her story. I would have given no more thought to her than a body filling space, breathing air.

And I would have cheated myself.

That is what troubles me now. So often it is easy to talk, to tell, to share about one's self. But to listen, to ask, to discover the beauty in another person is when magic happens. I was so profoundly affected and effected (to the point of change) by this encounter, this conversational dance that I am left wondering. I wonder about neighbors, friends, and strangers.

What is it that I don't know about them that makes them beautiful?

Til that moment, I have always made up their stories in my mind. But now I realize that nothing is more amazing than their individual, real lives.


Summer said...

I am the same way, always making up stories for those I observe.
This post was just, Wow. Thanks so much.

Elizabeth-W said...

I think that is what makes me such a moderate person. I give just about everyone a pass--whether you're a cross burning white supremacist or, or whatever is on the other end. Unless we know people in their total context we can't really understand them.
I also get overwhelmed when I start seeing each and every person as 'real'--with complete backstories, not just extras on the planet. How, how, how does God love each of us, you, me, the mass of humanity, individually? How is that possible??

Kellan Rhodes said...

I often say, "Everyone has a story." It's true, isn't it. I love that everyone has a story and I am ashamed that I don't sometimes care to hear them. But ... sometimes I too stop and listen or ask and those are often amazing moments. See Ya.

Cocoa said...

Really paying attention to someone else is a great talent. Too often I'm on the talking end instead of the listening end. My husband is really good at getting others to talk and tell their stories. So is his mother. And you know what? People like being around them because they feel special.

One conference weekend thirteen years ago, Joseph and I were invited to a Hinckley get-together. I was nervous as all get out. I didn't need to be we had a grand time. But I'll never forget sitting in the family room talking with Pres. and Sister Hinckley. As the grandchildren arrived they'd immediately come give a hug to Sister Hinckley and she'd ask them questions, personal questions like "How'd you do on your spelling test? I know some of those words were giving you a hard time this week." She knew what each one was interested in, what they had been doing! After talking with her the kids would run out to play saying, "Hi, Grandpa!" on their way out. It just blew me away. Sister Hinckley was such an example of being genuinely interested in people and their lives.

Corrie said...

summer - I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who does this.

Corrie said...

ew - that was the other thought that came to me. I'm sure it would be easy to love people like this woman I met (charitable and long-suffering), but when you know everything about everyone wow! how does that not become overwhelming?

I tend to be more of a judge in meeting people. It's terrible and I know I shouldn't be that way, but I suppose it's the whole reason I'm still here - lots to learn.

Corrie said...

kellan - why is it that we get wrapped up in our own little worlds and forget there are other 'worlds' all around us?

Corrie said...

cocoa - What wonderful experience. I really want to become more like that, and be genuinely interested in others and what they have to share (always).

It is like show and tell in kindergarten, sometimes we are so excited about what we brought we don't pay much attention to what the other kids are sharing.

Am'n2deep said...

Great, great, post. Because of the nature of my work, I often get to know people from the inside out rather than the usual outside in. I feel honored everytime someone gives me this opportunity. It really is a wonderful way to get to know people. It makes me a better person.

Adria said...

I think that what you are talking about is the first step to really knowing and loving everyone, because they are human but also because of who they are. And I think that that, that Christlike love, is what we are all here to achieve.

Not just that we ought to do it, but that when we do, we will have arrived.

Corrie said...

am'n - I think the more exposure we have to other people, to their individual struggles and triumphs, the more our understanding and compassion expands.

Corrie said...

adria - I think you're right. I loved having that realization hit me, if only I could have that feeling all the time - it would make it so much more do-able to love people for who they are and not what we wish they were.