The October challenge
It is October again, and I am taking on the October writing challenge (partially in preparation for a November writing challenge!!) I want to be writing every day this month, and I will be writing a variety of things including some fiction, as well as using writing prompts from Write 31 Days. However, I would like to stick to sharing one blog a week at least, via social media, and the ones I share there will be with the theme for this month: lessons I learned from/about people. So I am going to let the last of the 39 plus one lessons be the first of the October lessons. See what I did there? I will be publishing daily even if I don’t share, as a form of keeping myself accountable. I hope you enjoy coming on this journey with me.
I recently watched a show on Netflix called one man three wives, about a community that strongly believed in polygamous relationships. Don't ask... I love learning about other people and what they believe and how they live. I will say that I had a lot of preconceived notions about what would be portrayed on the show, although I watched it anyway. But I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. What struck me the most when I watched it was how... Normal the families seemed. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say but sometimes I catch myself "otherising" people - making sweeping generalisations about them based on a few small details. It's a twisted form of comparison but it's easily done, and if we are not careful it is the very thing that causes us to feel separate from one another. While I won't go into what I expected to see on the show I will tell you the lesson that I was reminded of when I watched it and that is that we are all the same, we are all different, we are all unique.
One thing that happened on the show that I didn’t expect was to hear the families talking about conflicts and jealousy and insecurities that they had. It really reminded me that we are all the same in that we all have our fears and worries, we all love and get hurt, we all have hopes and dreams. It may sound nebulous but I am a strong advocate on focusing on what we have in common as these are the things that draw us to each other. It is easy to look at other people and see the things that are different - that divide us (otherising). But I am not convinced that those things are as huge or important as we sometimes believe, and a part of the reason I love to learn about people; the thing that drives my natural curiosity is my belief in that. I sometimes need to remind myself that we have so much in common. It is easier to feel compassion when you feel connected by a common thread. Once I have reached the point of acceptance, I can accept the next inevitable truth - we are all different.
Anyone who has known me for the past few years knows that I am an optimist for life in name and in nature. Working with the optimist club, an organisation that serves youth and the community showed me the second part of this lesson clearly and continues to show me daily. If there was one thing I learned was that if we are similar in our need for community and service, our differences are what makes this community and service possible. I realized quite quickly that as an organisation we needed a variety of types of people in order to get anything done. Have you ever been in a meeting with lots of people who could dream big but no one desirous or capable of seeing the small steps necessary to make these a reality? What about with people that are all trying to execute a project without any strategy? To quote a saying (that I don't know the origin of) when you are a hammer - everything looks like a nail. Can you imagine a meeting full of hammers? I've been in them. Not fun. Sometimes I think we compare ourselves to others with this false belief that one personality trait would be more favourable than another, even that one job type or industry is more favourable than another. I've wished these things for myself but the truth is we need each other. Variety really is the spice of life. If we seek to complement each other - we may get more done. While I am aware this is a generalisation, I find that taking this approach has often brought me great results and makes it easier for me to work with others and less hard on myself.
Lastly - we are unique. There are no extras. No “mistake” people. Even the things we do in life and experience are a part of us and for me writing these lessons has taught me that there is a purpose in everything - whether I can see it right at this moment or not.
I have recently been trying to come to grips with the fact that right where I am is right where I am supposed to be. Even if I don't want to be here. I have to find the purpose in being exactly who I am, where I am, right at this moment. It isn't easy especially if I am living with decisions that I have regretted or losses that I haven't come to grips with. What helps me with that is something I was reminded of a few days ago - Dominus est – It is God. Some time ago a student preached at our church, and he trained with a group of monks who had this as their underlying principle. That every time they encountered anyone they met they reminded themselves that here was the Lord - and that God is in each and every one of us. I am reminded that this fact binds us together in our humanity no matter our differences. And I am convinced that if we approached people this way we could also appreciate each other's uniqueness as well as our own.
We are all the same, we are all different, we are all unique. Dominus est
I send you big love from a small island