Jan 302016

Electing to unknowT.S. Eliot
“We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.”

We communicate in nonverbal ways to a significantly greater extent than we do with words, by voice or by writing. Yet we often neglect the energetic messages we emanate, in the form of our regard for someone. Our expectations of their presumed response are based on our (by its very nature) severely limited experience of them.

No one exists in a vacuum. And no one IS a certain way…. For every defining characteristic of a person, someone somewhere at some time will experience the opposite in them – or the total absence of that seemingly ever-present “is-ness” about them.
Who among us does not change? Whose moods, preferences, abilities, predilections remain absolutely constant? We unwittingly limit ourselves and other people by believing we know them, believing we’ve encountered this person before. They “are” not who we accustom ourselves to believing/acting as if they Are.

What is the role that we play, in our experience of the world? Exactly what of another person exists outside of our experience of them? How can we experience anything about them that is outside of what we believe/perceive about them?

We forget that we create the people in our lives. The self we are, the self we bring to our encounters with others, creates the manner in which they occur for us. Who-we-are sets the tone for how other people show up. We don’t just perceive people, or describe them; in actuality we conceive them, we evoke select aspects of them. We are the container within which they appear.

This is good news. If no one is a static way, then change is always possible. Someone we experience as enemy or frustration can be re-made into friend or inspiration.

However: While the re-making of another happens within us, within our conception of them, we cannot change another by simply electing to believe something different about them, by changing our opinion of them.

What we are charged with is changing the only thing we can: The who-we-are that conceives, perceives, describes.
Who would we be, in a different experience of another?
How would we be, in being free to discover them as someone new?

We are – we can let ourselves be – the stranger in each encounter… We can discover ourselves newly in every familiar face.

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