Imagine that the world was ‘complete’ – that we didn’t have to strive for anything. That potential was equal to immediate result. How beautiful would that be? Unspeakably so – until we reach the end of the line and find fetid frustration. Kids won’t have to rush home before dark – and mothers will be worried sick. Economies would lose the rich-poor market dynamics and eventually become stagnant. Populations would double, triple, then quadruple because no one would die. If you’ve ever wondered why the world isn’t perfect, I hope this sorts that out.
Perfection may not be attainable – but we all catch a glimpse every now and then. Ever felt this familiarity around someone you’ve just met? Almost as if you’ve known them for years? A stranger on the queue, a co-commuter on a bus – or just a random passer-by? Sometimes we wonder what forms the chemistry; other times, we’re just too carried away. So caught up we find ourselves unloading on them. Sometimes, we even reveal sworn secrets. Funny how something so strange can feel so familiar! “Afterall, our paths will never cross again”. “Plus, she looks like a really decent lady”. “I’m glad someone finally listened”.
Three things stand out through these encounters: 1. We feel more than we know. In fact, we know next to nothing and often just go with the gut! 2. A need is met. Whether it was a need to be heard or appreciated – or just a routine need for company, something clicks. 3. We suppress the need to probe. We’re scared to ruin this semblance of perfection, so we just let the moment fend for itself. We don’t care for any extra details that may tarnish the moment. Auto-pilot; wherever you lead! Ignorance is, indeed, bliss. But is it?
Turn this scene on its head – and milk it for everything nasty. Imagine that, instead of warmth, what we feel in that instance is resentment. Or that the long-nursed need was for a channel through which to vent anger. Imagine that the moment was so perfectly wrong that we ignored the chance to probe. Imagine that the moment has passed – but the errors of hasty judgments and actions echo forever!
There may never be a shortage of strangers and random-meets; meaning we always have to do the split-second assessments. Still, how often do we (wrongly) rely on what we see or hear? Angels have been known to roam in the filthiest of apparels – and the world’s deadliest predators come disguised as pets. But we already know (that assumptions can be costly). We see it all the time. Sometimes, it’s mild; other times, it’s terminal and grossly irreparable – as with the #Aluu4.
So, who is the world’s perfect stranger? Is it the man on the queue we hit it off with like we’ve been friends forever? Or the one we take one look at and conclude we’ve been enemies with from the previous life? How about neither?
How about you took a long hard look in the mirror and asked what you would do if a drunk officer unjustly delayed you? What if you were en route to a terribly important interview? What if he had a gun? Not sure it’s possible to tell without being there!There’s this story of a manager who slapped his CEO at a heated meeting. It’s not likely the manager woke with thoughts of mutiny but the ‘circumstance’ prevailed against reason! If that slap came your way, being CEO, how would you call it? (How) Would you help him regret his action? Of course, said CEO fired him – but then hired him back. The ‘why’ remains a trade secret.
Point is, until we can accurately predict all our actions in advance, we’re no better than those we judge in haste. And, because no one ever sees the whole picture form any one point, the challenge becomes eternally difficult.
Look no further, the perfect stranger you seek is you; it’s I. It’s in the circumstances that influence our actions; the ones that complicate otherwise simple ‘left or right’ choices. A ram may bite when pushed to the wall but it’ll have to do a lot more to pass for a lion!
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