We, as neighbors or classmates or coworkers, are more alike than we realize. Genetically speaking, Michael Jackson’s and your genes are 99.9% alike. As scary as this may seem, you may have other things in common with Michael. Upon researching this pop icon, I’ve learned that he and I both enjoy amusement park rides. I believe with a little effort, you’ll learn that you share a common bond with any given person on the planet.
A few years ago, I stood in a checkout line and recognized the person behind me as Nancy, a former high school classmate. We never spoke to each other because she was a showoff and told jokes that I didn’t think were funny. Trying not to look nosey, I slyly glanced at the item in her hand. She was purchasing one thing—the same CD I was buying. She noticed the coincidence, too, and we awkwardly half-smiled. I don’t remember what CD we bought, but I do remember wanting to say something—something about how funny the coincidence was or ask how her life was going. Even if I didn’t share her sense of humor, we liked the same music, and a small conversation could have sparked a friendship.
My former classmate, Jon, is about to join the priesthood. As sixteen year olds, I remember him considering becoming a priest, but his father disapproved of it, so he went to college instead. He was hiding his homosexuality, struggling academically to please his father, and avoiding acting on his ‘calling’. Ironically, I wanted to leave the Catholic Church, to the dismay of my devout mother. Jon and I supported each other, and his father has begrudgingly accepted his decision, just as my mother has accepted mine.
One of my very best friends is a 54-year-old grandmother. Debbie is loud and annoys the hell out of me sometimes, but I love her to death. We used to work together, and on her first day, she cornered me in the bathroom and told me her life story. She talked for fifteen minutes, but it felt like fifteen hours. With frazzled hair and slumped shoulders, I felt drained after spending a couple minutes with this woman. After weeks of slow work days, we shared a million conversations, and I actually started to enjoy her company. Though we don’t work together anymore, we still hang out and keep each other updated on the latest happenings in our lives.
Many times I’ve met someone and thought, “Oh, great. This guy is going to be an idiot.” I would write him off and avoid talking to him and go on with my life. Now I can’t help but look back and think of all friendships that could have been and all the connections that were oh so close. I try to learn from my experiences and be open-minded regarding new ones. The next time I go to Busch Gardens, I will definitely consider inviting Michael Jackson.
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