Here’s the audio version of this post, narrated by Charles DuFont:
Many of us instinctively judge everyone and everything that we come across. When someone says something that we disagree with we automatically put them into a specific category and base all our future interactions with this person based on their viewpoint which we don’t agree with. This, in turn, creates divisions and limits our ability to see the world from the perspective of another.
Personally, I have had friends from almost every country, culture, and religion. I’ve even hung out with people who classify themselves as punks, goths, metal-heads, hipsters, hippies and hip-hop rappers, all of which are sub-cultures within themselves. These people also create their own limitations by listening to one particular style of music. Why listen to only one genre of rhythmic sound when we have countless to choose from, to enjoy and be inspired by?
Why only hang out with Africans, when we can also spend our time with Europeans, Asians, Americans, Australians, and any number of people who all have different histories, backgrounds, folk wisdom and a whole world of knowledge and experience waiting to be tapped into. If you just open your mind, heart, and mouth and start a conversation, a potential new world will open to you. This new “book” may be worth reading if you take the time to “flip” through its pages.
That’s another reason why I dress neutrally. I wear casual clothing, like the common everyday man. I don’t wear extremely wild fashions or t-shirts that advertise specific brands. In this way, people won’t feel uncomfortable when speaking with me because I don’t stick out of the crowd. I blend into my environment; wherever I go. I’m just a normal dude having a normal conversation and creating a lasting memory. One which automatically gets stored into the “vault”, which I can use for future reference, whenever I need it.
Each person has their own story to tell and the beauty of meeting new people is having these interactions and seeing the world through their eyes. If they are totally different to you then even better. These types of conversations will open your mind more than any other. Who cares if you don’t agree with everything they say, just listen, keep your opinions to yourself and let people spill their guts before your very eyes.
For example, the other day I was visiting a new city and I went to work out at the local gym. There was a nice older dude there who needed a spot. I gave him a hand at the bench press and we started to casually talk about exercise and what not. Then he showed me his nose, which was crooked as all hell. He explained to me how he injured himself at that very gym about ten years ago. A barbell accidentally fell and crushed his face because he didn’t have a spotter to help him out. It almost killed the poor helpless bastard. He never went to the hospital to get it operated on, so he now has a massively crooked nose, but he doesn’t seem to care. You know how old dudes are, they can be quite laid back and oblivious to how they look. For him, it’s probably now a mark of his manhood or something like that.
After he explained to me about all of his past injuries, he commenced to talk about his love life. About the sexy forty-year-old woman that he met last week. How their date went, how wild she was in the bedroom, her thick luscious lips and so forth. I knew this man for about ten minutes and he was telling me everything. Which was interesting and entertaining, maybe a bit too personal, but whatever, who cares? These types of conversations are fascinating to me, I love them!
Let us compare a person (any person) to an excavation site, if you will. When the team of archaeologists get out there to the terrain and locate what they think might be an amazing historical treasure. A buried fossil, the remains of a new species of dinosaur, the leftover cultural relics of a lost tribe. They have no idea what they may uncover and they don’t find what they’re looking for right away. They have to carefully dig around the area, moving away millennia worth of dirt, sand, and grit. It takes time and patience to unearth the thing and when they finally do get it up out of the ground so it’s visible and accessible, there’s a chance they can change our understanding of history with each newly revealed discovery …
Imagine if you give one new person the chance to open up and speak to you. They may change your overall outlook or give you an idea that could alter the course of your life. So instead of just brushing people aside like we might swat annoying flies, maybe we should take the time to invest in each other. Opening our hearts and minds to new perspectives.
As a social exercise, I encourage you to meet at least one new person per week (or day). Someone who looks totally different to you. An older or younger person. Somebody from a different cultural, professional or economic background. Have a casual conversation with them and I guarantee you’ll learn something new every time you open your mouth and listen to their thoughts.