A little while ago I contemplated people. Yes, people, in general. As an introverted person myself, I thought about how I view other people. I was thinking about this because to be honest, sometimes it is difficult for me to be around a lot of people, to see people at every turn, to engage with people throughout the day. Now, please don’t get me wrong, people are great, but for me, on days like today (and the day I was thinking about people in general) it takes concerted effort and extreme intentionality to engage with people. I know I now seem like a crazy person but there it is, now you know, I’m a social weirdo. So, as today is Friday, I have just worked my first full week since before the holidays, my introverted tank is running low, and I am facing many hours of engaging with people, I thought I’d share my rambling (and I do mean rambling) thoughts on people that I wrote while I contemplated people, a while ago…
As the iconic Doors song explains, people are strange. It’s true. Even more recently Billy Currington writes in his true-to-life song, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.” The longer the world exists the more this becomes evident. Maybe it’s always been true about people; maybe we’ve always been strange, and crazy, and going out of our minds (per the band LIVE in their song “We Stood Up For Love”.) Music seems to reflect life so these songs must be on to something. There are so few songs, actually none that I can reference from memory, saying people are great, or people are awesome, because though the latter may be true, at their core, people are strange. Now, to define strange is quite a conundrum in itself. People can be strangely beautiful, or simply strange as opposed to average or “normal” (“normal” always requires quotes because normal is relative and by nature indefinable.) Strange cannot always then be negative although its connotation suggests otherwise. One answer I’ve come to believe actually lies within myself. Not that I have the answer for the world (as there is absolutely no musical evidence to support such a claim) but I have an answer for myself. As paraphrased in Plato’s Symposium, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is my choice whether to view people as negatively strange or positively strange (not as in absolutely, positively strange, but as strangely beautiful and unique in a positive way.) I know that people are intrinsically beautiful and uniquely special. It is by design. God designed people this way on purpose. If I’m going to be honest with myself I must confess that I have a hard time engaging with other people sometimes when I think of all of the various personality characteristics floating around out there. You might assume that this comes from an exaggerated opinion of myself but let me be perfectly clear. If any opinion of myself is exaggerated it is the negative opinion that I am hopelessly flawed, as in a design flaw (though if I believe the aforementioned statement about God’s beautiful, purposeful design then I am obviously conflicted.) I have found that I often avoid the strangeness that exists in other people as it is outside of myself. If someone at work is a completely selfish and lazy person possessing nothing that could be mistaken for work ethic I can simply avoid him or her unless confrontation is unavoidable due to space and time. I by no means have to have any significant interaction with him or her or anything amounting to a relationship (the word ‘relationship’ has many connotations but for the purposes of this writing ‘relationship’ will simply mean a series of systematic, purposeful interactions, no value, good or bad, attached.) I don’t have to engage with him or her at all (barring any unforeseen circumstances such as him or her initiating conversation with me in the presence of other co-workers where it would be socially unacceptable to blatantly ignore him or her.) Therefore I don’t engage. I know this makes me a terrible person. If someone is melodramatic though sometimes a good conversationalist, engaging is an option. Avoidance in its entirety is unnecessary. Though we probably share virtually nothing in common, periodic casual conversations are harmless. If someone is a vibrant, happy, and more than capable of sustaining intellectual conversation while working, interaction is welcomed. I by no means am never lazy or selfish. I am often selfish and sometimes lazy, sometimes. However I still have not reconciled my issue with laziness and selfishness in others. It’s not true that I’ve never experienced melodramatic moments however I naturally withdrawal from this characteristic in others. I am definitely not always vibrant and happy and intellectual (well, maybe I am just not always vibrant and happy) but I applaud others for possessing these very characteristics. It would seem like a double standard and maybe it is. No, it is, it definitely is. The actual truth however is that these characteristics are only undesirable if that is how I see or ‘behold’ them. If it is true that people are unique and beautiful by design, then I should, if I so choose, be able to see this beauty in every person. It is even possible that if I initiated seeing each person as uniquely and strangely beautiful then I just might see the same qualities in myself, maybe, eventually. It is an observation of mine that people seem happier when they behold the beauty in others. I suppose that if I saw more beauty in more people it would also be logical to engage more fully in relationships with these people. Although if I’m being honest again it’s difficult for me to see more relationship engagement as a positive move instead of an unintended consequence but I’ll work on that.
As for now my goal is simply to try to live out this bit about beauty and eyes and beholders and, to not avoid people all day today.