IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:
US Tour Day 103, Part 2: Knowing Someone
I had an unusual host last night. It was Andie. This trip of mine has had many hosts—old, young, tall, short, and any of the other opposites we use every day to help us make generalizations and justify our decisions. Andie is singular in that she is the only person in this trip that I have known—really known.
Now, I am aware that I'm misusing the word know here, instead meaning that I have tasted an approximation of her or that I have ideas about the direction and magnitude of the complex sum of her vectors. Of course, it is a mistake to believe one can really possess complete knowledge of anyone or know them in the ultimate sense of the word. One's identity can't be described the measly opposites of language, nor can it be contained with intellectual constructs represented by words.
But, with this said, I can say that I know Andie better than anyone else I have encountered in the last hundred or so days.
Other people I've met have known me—through my writing, as a friend of a friend, as an old acquaintance, or even as family. But, I haven't known a single one of them except at face value, formulating my judgments only in real time based on what I can perceive about them in the few moments we're lucky enough to share.
I've had so much history with Andie, though. And through the seconds, the minutes, the hours, days, and years, my sample points—instantaneous mental snapshots of her—have brought my approximation of who she is closer and closer to the unattainable, ungraspable (and sneakily dynamic) asymptote that is her being.
What does it all mean?
First of all, I interact with her differently than most others. While I never stop longing to know more about her, I am in many ways past the point of asking her questions about her life as I would do with someone who is new to me. Instead I find that now I learn about her simply by being around her and observing her living. With her I experience a sense of calm, the way one might feel about a glacier or a mountain. Time slows down and there is more space for silent speaking. I notice a stark absence of that frantic, exploding feeling my life usually has—like someone might notice their pants were all of a sudden no longer on their legs anymore. This is the good part about having so many shared moments.
But, there are so many challenges introduced by shared moments. As people, we use self–made interpretations of our past as evidence to support our chosen belief system. These beliefs are the mold we use to shape each and every new day forever.
The issue is that our beliefs are supported not by our actual past but by our interpretations of the past! While the past is true and exact, our interpretations of it are fuzzy at best and often wildly inaccurate, untrue, distorted, and unreasonably emotionally–charged. A simple example would be this: A guy asks a girl at school out on a date. She says no. Later, his friend asked him what happened. He tells his friend that she was 'stuck up' and 'a total bitch'. But, this isn't actually what happened at all! This was his interpretation of what happened. What actually happened was simple. He asked her out. She said no. Imagine how many interpretations of the past we allow to pollute our present and therefore future each day!
When a new person enters your life there is a clean slate. There have been no shared moments, no past, and, therefore, no interpretations. But, with an old friend, family member, or lover the moments overflow the pages of our diaries and photo albums and scrapbooks and our interpretations of what happened fill our minds, replacing the virgin space where opportunity and innocence could be. We make up our minds about who they are and find evidence to support it in each passing day rather than newly discovering them.
Sometimes I wonder how I would treat Andie if I met her for the first time today. I could be anything and act in any number of new ways—ways I've never thought of! I try to keep my mind soft and open to the newness of each moment. It's not always easy, though, as I fall prey to my own ideas about things.
But, what are ideas except the weak opposites of language? More, less, here, not here, good, bad, better, worse, existing, not existing. My genius friend Doug Wyatt said it best, "Language only describes opposites. But, that's not all there is."
So, on this Day After Christmas Morning, it's time to tip our hats and toast the glaciers and mountains for what they have been all these years, and then dance with them like the wind dances with clouds—never knowing, always soft, ever–changing, new.
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