Now, before some of you start thinking, “Ahhhh, poor Tim. He must be getting a head start on senility. He must have meant to say ‘Explore Your NeighborHOOD’ and not neighbor…” I will tell you that I, in fact, meant to say just that.
By now, I am sure any of you loyal readers will have noticed a number of themes that appear regularly in each of the sections of our blog. One that we clearly believe strongly in is the idea of exploration. Quite simply – the world is a great big playground and since we are curious people, we here at the Transmogrifier believe there is no doubt that we are meant to explore every bit of our world. That desire to explore and the world to be explored is one of the very best things about our jobs here.
Obviously, exploration can be a scary thing. The thing that makes it scary is the (insert dramatic music sound effect here) the unknown… We are both intrigued by what is on the other side of that mountain in front of us and scared of what may be lurking there. This is not a new idea at all. If you doubt me, take a look at old maps. It was a widely held fear before Magellan circumnavigated the globe, that if you sailed too far you would fall off the edge of the world. And to make it extra scary, map makers of the time put ravenous sea monsters at the edges of the maps to reinforce the fear of the unknown.
While we all understand that exploration has both risk and reward and it is that combination of the two in unique proportions that taunts us to do things like climb Mount Everest, why is it that we rarely see the challenge in getting to know people as a worthy exploration?
Yes- people (especially those we do not know) can be even more scary than sea monsters, but I will bet that all of us can think of a great story of when we took a risk and spoke to someone. That may have started out scary or hard, but then turned out to be a wonderful experience, and may have even led to a life-long relationship in some cases. A blind date leads to a marriage. A suicide leads to a strong friendship among those that dealt with it. Offering a homeless guy a chance to stay somewhere on a cold winter night leads to a friendship and a life saved.
I am not naive, clearly good things do not happen every time or even a lot of the time when we risk reaching out to people. Just like the risk that comes with exploring the world, there is real risk in getting to know people. But the rewards can be so much greater than a cargo hold full of spices (that was what Magellan’s crew saw as their dream goal and why they were willing to take the risk of falling of the Earth.)
I am not suggesting that we spend every waking hour walking up to complete strangers and offering to be their BFF, but certainly we can agree that if we at least change our perspective of people we do not know from a virtual map with sea monsters, to the chance to discover and explore, that will be a step in the right direction. This applies to those who look different, talk different, and even have different views, customs and beliefs. If we see those people as a chance to explore and get to know them, rather than scary and unknown, there is no telling where you might go next.
So that nice, cute waitress who smiles at you – talking to her is like stepping up onto a pitcher’s mound compared to the Everest that is talking to the homeless guy who smells of urine and stale beer. Both deserve our time and both deserve to be treated with respect.
Go ahead – talk to someone you don’t know and see what is at the edges of that map…