Monday, April 11, 2011

Two Minutes That Might Change My Life

What if...
We saw everyone we run into throughout the day as individuals, with dreams and fears like ourselves? What if we recognized and affirmed the inherent divinity and potential within each of them? What if we valued the contribution each person makes to the world?
The preceding questions are admittedly cheesy, wishful-dreamy, and cliche. But aren't they true?

In one of my classes today, I realized that my dance partner was making real eye contact with me. He's probably done that every time, but today I noticed, and it felt different - it made me shy and curious. What does he see when he's looking at me? (A usual, self-conscious thought). Then an increased awareness: What's he thinking about? Is he wondering how I see him? (Now my thoughts have shifted from myself to him). This brief exchange altered the way I thought and responded. At first I was shy with returning his gaze, but then I had fun with it and smiled more genuinely; I became more interested in sharing the experience with him, instead of feeling shy and obliged to his generosity. This guy is on one of the dance teams - I had assumed that he was a strong, confident dancer and was indifferent about how I perceived him.

But I can only see the outside, and by assuming I already guessed the inside correctly, I ignored the opportunities to learn more about him. Granted, my assumptions could have been right... And I haven't assumed anything negative about him... I may or may not have more opportunities after this semester to interact with him personally, but whether I'm right or not or if I'll see him or not, it still matters. Because he - as a real, 3-D person - matters. And that's the lesson I learned.

Part of me doubts that my partner even batted an eye at our 5 minutes of dancing together today. And the newer part of me says that I simply don't know. Haha, and perhaps I'm ridiculous for pulling so much from the experience :P But it reaffirmed to me the importance of valuing people as they are, not as who I think they are.

     What if we saw those around us as real people, with fears, bad days, stresses, desires, secret dreams, hopes and beautiful days? What if we looked past what's on the outside, and recognized them for their uniqueness and for the contribution that they make in people's lives every day? What if we stopped judging and started seeing, and started loving instead of assuming? The world would be an even better place :)

So thank you to that dance partner who really looked me in the eyes. I hope I remember and apply what I learned tonight.

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