“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” (Carl Sagan) – I saw that little saying some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog and filed it away for future comments.
Sagan is one of the great scientific minds of our time and he is certainly right about great things waiting to be known. Just in my lifetime some many great things have been discovered or done that there would not be enough room to list them here. The pace of discovery has picked up too, as seemingly the more that was discovered the wider the frontiers for even more discoveries. Sometimes I wonder, what took them so long to make the connections between one thing and another in order to see even more things that were hitherto unknown. Sometimes it’s the development of instruments or tools that hold up discovery for a while, but many times it is just man’s inability to see beyond the obvious or the current and to look for something new just beyond what is currently known.
I think the same little phrase could be easily modified to read, “Somewhere someone incredible is waiting to be known.” Don’t you often wonder, “ I wonder what their story is?”; as you pass by someone, maybe someone with an unique look or perhaps an intriguing “air” about them. Haven’t you ever seen someone across the room at a party or gathering and wonder who they are and what their story is, what they do, where they came from and where they’re going? Maybe you’ve overheard someone talking about living overseas and wondered how that must have been. Perhaps you’ve listened to a speaker and thought about what they must have gone through to get to this point in their life. There are all examples of incredible people who are waiting to be discovered.
While our lives all march forward with time they do not do so in parallel; rather they come and go from all sorts of angles, intersecting our lives for a moment and then disappearing off in their own direction. What makes life really interesting is those few moments of intersection when we can share experiences and knowledge with each other. Many people think their lives to be uninteresting or even boring; but, most have actually done or seen or experienced things that others may not have, so they do have something to share. The problem is that none of take enough time during those moments of intersection with others to really get to know them and let them know you. Admittedly, a chance meeting at a gathering is unlikely to be that opportunity; however, we do get more than that with many people in our lives. How often do we actually explore their lives and share ours?
I wrote recently about conceit and perhaps it is that which tends to drive us to focus upon ourselves, rather than to explore what the other person has to offer. If you spend the entire time with with someone them telling them about your trip to the grocery store or the little league game, they may not have time to tell you their story about going to tiger Stadium and meeting Justine Verlander. If you care more about relating your story of your last vacation to Disney World, you may miss their story about meeting the Pope in Rome. Maybe your child’s latest bout with pink eye is more important than finding out from a woman that you meet that her mother went to school with your mother and that her mother almost married your dad; but, you’ll never know that because you never got around to listening to their story.
Then there are the stories of the people that we avoid. The homeless man sleeping in the doorway may have been a successful businessman and a family man – how did he get here? The bag lady pushing the grocery cart down the street wasn’t born on the street. How did she get here? Does she have a family somewhere? What does she need to get back on her feet? How will you ever know if you don’t ask? There are so many people whom we might meet with stories that might help us better understand different perspectives on life, if only we engaged with them in conversations. It is so much easier to sit back and condemn people who pursue the GLBT lifestyle than to engage them in meaningful conversations that might help us better understand. It is also easy to dismiss and avoid those of different faiths that we do not understand, rather than seeking an understanding of their view of God and the influence of faith and religion on their lives.
Don’t you think that the Good Samaritan in the Bible story probably talked with the man that he helped on the road that day and even listened to his story; or do you believe that he just threw a few Shekels at the inn keeper that he took that
man to and told him to take care of the robbery victim. Using charitable giving is sometimes so convenient because we don’t have to take the time to actually meet the poor people that our money is supposedly helping. Just dump a buck or two in the can of the poor guy sitting on the sidewalk, but try not to make eye contact. His sign says that he’s a homeless Vet; did it ever occur to you to ask how the hell he got there after serving his country?
Somewhere someone incredible is waiting to be known; but you’ll have to look them in the eye and listen to their story. Maybe someone will take interest in you long enough to listen to your story. We will all get there someday – to that place where we are hoping that someone wants to take the time to talk to us and listen to our story. Be that someone for someone else today.