Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
The thing that gives me hope is the ability to experience and learn from one another.
A few years ago I was flying from Miami to Detroit when I met a gentleman of the Baha’i faith. Normally I am that person who will make eye contact with you when you sit down but keep fervently to myself for the entirely of the flight. But somehow this gentleman and I ended up in conversation about faith and I asked him questions for the entire two hours. “So, what happens after you die?” “What about redemption?” “Do you have scriptures?” “How does this impact your everyday life?” It was a truly fascinating conversation as I had never met someone like him before. Nothing thrills me more than to have an open conversation with someone of beliefs very different from mine. We didn’t argue, debate, or try to convert each other. We just talked.
This last summer my friend Nathan came up to visit from Virgina. We grew up together but he moved to the south partway through high school. We fought a lot through high school but he was a steadfast friend and despite our disagreements kept me from making more than a few stupid mistakes. We sat at a Chipotle in the middle of town on a warm evening talking. Another friend from high school, Josiah, was there. I never really talked much to him while we were in youth group together, but after running into him several times over the summer have discovered just how intelligent and funny he is. Nathan and I talked non-stop for a couple of hours, occasionally checking to make sure we hadn’t bored Josiah to tears. After the several years Nathan had been away, we were able to pick up right where we left off (without the fighting). I would jump into stories and kept forgetting that he hadn’t been here the whole time for the back story.
This Christmas there was a gift exchange at work. Twenty-six of us sat in one of the conference rooms, ate pizza, and roared as each new gift was opened and gift-stealing commenced. I had a moment where everything got quiet in my head and I just sat back in awe. To my right was a newer coworker who has been amazing to work with who eventually was envious of the sauerkraut and Best Buy gift card I ended up with. To my left was one of the first people I met on the job who has become a good friend, go-to nerd friend, and the one who ended up with fish boxers. He tried to pawn them off for the rest of the game.
As I looked around the room I saw familiar faces and new faces, but each of them melded into the culture and committed to being a part of our team. Some of my friends at work are Pinball championships, owners of gigantic music libraries, avid Doctor Who fans, gamers, musicians, beer connoisseurs, math aficionados, amazing graphic designers, and all of them are full of stories. All of them are extremely smart and bring completely different things to the table. Despite being so varied and different, they collectively make up a great team that I am proud to be a part of.
I met up with some girlfriends at Mainstreet Billards a little before Christmas. One of them, Heather, I had also went to youth group with. We were semi-friends back in high school but we didn’t really spend time with the same people. I didn’t see her for a couple of years after we graduated and then I ran into her at a coffee shop accidentally and then shortly thereafter was brought into her group of friends. She me invited to her house, parties, and wedding. After hanging out and drinking a cocktail that tasted like crushed vitamin C at Mainstreet, I ran next door and got some coffee from another friend, Kate, who I met a few months after moving to Michigan.
Walking back to my car in the snow, my fresh Kona bean coffee in my hands, all I could do was smile. Christmas and New Year’s always makes me more nostalgic than usual, but the thought I couldn’t shake was what incredible people I have in my life.
There are times where the tedium of life gets me feeling antsy, like those days I come back from a big grocery store trip only to discover I’ve missed one crucial item. Friends and family members are visited by illness and have brushes with death and I question why people don’t opt-out of this life more often.
But what brings me back to the surface are the magnificent souls I have the opportunity to interact with.
This gives me hope because my understanding of humanity is constantly changing. I meet new people with new stories, new hobbies, and new accents. I get the chance to see beyond my own little boring life and swap anecdotes with strangers who might become my next best friend.
People help me grow and give my heart fuel to continue on to another day. I get to hear new perspectives, understand new issues, and share passions with them. I have people I can text at midnight when I’m having a bad night, and people I see on a regular basis who care about me. There are those I don’t see for a long time, who, when I run into them remind me just how much I miss them.
This is what gives me hope. I get the chance to experience another person in all their humanity and they get to experience me in mine. I have the chance to cry in front of them, laugh hysterically at their stories, share beliefs, geek out over our favorite shows, and listen to them. This is the greatest gift of being a human.
Why don’t people opt-out more? Because, man, these people are incredible.