I spent many years of my life in a constant state of travel between cities, states, and countries which gave me an unprecedented look at people across a wide spectrum of life. Many folks who I never would have bumped into if not for our paths momentarily crossing as we got from point A to point B. Time and time again, I marveled at the complex lives around me. The solemn woman in Tampa who was on her way to unplug her comatose sister and dreading that she might have to adopt her nephews. A gregarious Czech man in Dusseldorf who plied me with beers and espressos till the AMs as we suffered through an overnight layover at the airport. 70-year old traveling buddies who drank me under the table on Belvedere martinis, straight up with a twist, while regaling me with tales of Reno, Hawaii, and San Francisco.
All it takes are a few moments amongst the people sharing this world and you quickly see that humanity is a beautiful tapestry of grays. Not the black and white, us versus them, 0 or 1, divisive categories we’re so often corralled into. It’s what makes me hate labels the older I get. Not once has a person I’ve met, and made the effort to converse with, ever been solely defined by a label or demographic. The few words I use to describe myself are merely entry level descriptors for the social chameleon that I am.
I hate individuals who treat others as talking points instead of human beings. Life is fluid, people are fluid, ideas and viewpoints have more nuance than news sound bites and internet headlines lead us to believe. You can’t tick a series of boxes on a checklist and have it equate a person. That’s a fantasy held by those with no desire to expand the boundaries of their limited worldview.
Let’s try disposing of trite labels and getting to know one another. I guarantee you’ll be surprised.
Image by Christiaan Colen on Flickr.