I’m not sure why but this morning as I ambled through suburbia on my daily meditative stroll, it dawned on me how similar we all are. Outwardly different, inwardly not-so-different. Along the way, I meandered through a busy shopping strip full of frantic shoppers and I strolled by numerous cafes overflowing with the Sunday morning latte and Bircher muesli crowd. I passed a bunch of kids playing football while their vocal parents screamed from the sidelines and I crossed paths with a curious collection of dog owners traversing the urban sprawl while tethered to their much-loved pooches. Some nodding hello, most not. I encountered a swarm of teenage skateboarders moving in unison along the bitumen like a migrating herd of… something. And finally, I passed a guy wearing some big-arse headphones singing woefully out of tune and much louder than I’m sure he realised. He made me smile.
All in all, a reasonable cross-section of humanity.
As I walked, I listened (through my not-so-big-arse headphones) to people sharing their thoughts, problems, philosophies and theories on talk-back radio. I connected with their passion, conviction, pain and their hope as they explored a range of topics with the host. I contemplated what would make people share their very personal stories in such a public forum. I guess I wasn’t thinking (which can be exhausting) as much as I was pondering (a more relaxing cerebral experience).
For someone who talks and writes for a job, sometimes I love to do neither. I really enjoy being the quiet, anonymous observer. The watcher. The listener. The passer by. Not to judge or evaluate anything or anyone but simply, to pay attention. As I walked, watched and listened this morning, I experienced what I can only describe as a curious feeling. Like there was some kind of lesson I was meant to learn in the moment. Some insight or wisdom to be gleaned. After a while, the feeling shifted from one of curiosity to one of familiarity. Even though I didn’t know any of the people who crossed my path, for some reason, I felt a level of connection with them. A sense of familiarity. And then it dawned on me.
I do know them.
I know them all. I might not know their name, where they live or what they had for breakfast but I know them. I know them because when I look past all the ‘non-them stuff’ (the skateboards, the clothes, the dog breeds, the physical appearance, the age), they are just like me and I’m just like them. In many ways, we are the same. When the layers are peeled back, what we’re left with is a group of emotional creatures who all want very similar things.
To be wanted, needed, valued, connected, loved, safe and happy.
Not So Different
Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule but when we look beyond the superficial external stuff, the majority of us are not nearly as different as we might like to believe. Even on this site, I receive many comments and emails from people who are surprised (if not, freaked out) by the accuracy with which I can describe their life, their situation, their relationship and even their state of mind without ever meeting them. “Do you have a camera in my house?” I’ve been asked hundreds of times.
Well, I don’t need a camera because I’m just like you. Brave. Scared. Confident. Insecure. Frustrated. Calm. Over-thinking. Not thinking. Happy. Sad. Motivated. De-motivated. Laughing. Crying. Productive. Stagnant. Positive. Negative. You. Me.