Do You Marvel at the Differences in People?

Aren’t the differences between and within people among the most interesting observations we can make in life? The contrasts can be simple likes and dislikes or can go far deeper to our core beliefs and motivations.

My mashed potatoes have to have lumps, while another person uses a blender to make them as smooth as whipped cream. My husband is a russet man, don’t put a sweet potato on his plate — while I can eat those orange spuds grilled-smashed-cubed-boiled.

Jackie and I both dislike clowns — the face paint freaks us out, let alone orange hair standing two feet tall — but we love laughing more than almost anything else in the world. Give us The Three Stooges or The Big Bang lunacy and we’re happy gals.

I like eggs, but not chicken. My brother likes chicken, but not eggs. We older sisters and our brother avoid Halloween, although we had fun as kids, while the last of us — ten years my younger — goes Munster with her creepy October parties.

Friends with whom I enjoy a particular genre of book may completely differ with me on the movies we watch. Or, two of you can love reading mysteries, but one will love romances and the other (me) avoid them.

Some of us relax on a Friday night with a glass of Italian red wine and putting our feet up — nice and quiet with one of those good books or a show we’ve been wanting to binge watch (The best way to indulge in the Downton Abbey experience.) or a chat with your spouse. Others like to go out with friends to a restaurant or bar and soak in a loud, boisterous atmosphere — getting regenerated by being with a group.

Many of us are homebodies, enjoying time spent with friends who stop by for a casual visit. Others of us live by the no-moss-growing-on-this-rolling stone because we thrive on traveling hither and yon. Or, we’re a combination of both. I love to be home — LOVE TO BE HOME. But if my hiking shoes aren’t stepping on turf other than that found in Pittsburgh every six weeks or so, I start to fray a bit around the edges.

From food, to books, to movies, to life enjoyments, our intrinsic likes and dislikes are as multi-faceted as a well-cut diamond.

So are our outsides.

Thankfully, we humans come in a variety of shapes. We’re short/tall, big/small, angular/round. We have skin in multiple colors and various shades of those glorious hues. Some of us have dots on our skin — as a fascinated toddler from India once said of my August-speckled-with-brown, otherwise creamy-white arms. Her mom explained that they have no word for freckles — I laughed and accepted that dots they are!

Our ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic upbringings are vastly separate or closely parallel. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and still love having had the experience. My husband grew up in Pittsburgh and relishes being a city boy. When we travel, I don’t mind a bit of touring in the city, but long to hike while he likes to have some hiking time book-ended by city-time.

If people were the same as thoroughly mashed Idaho potatoes — smooth, white, without any hidden lumps — the world would be a very boring place.

The diversification of us.

But for our many variations in where we find pleasure or the thoughts we ponder, don’t you think that if you converse long enough with almost anyone, you can find some common ground, be it:

  • Love for the scent of lavender budding outside the back door or in the pink-painted window box at your second story window.
  • A secret affinity for 1960s Bubble Gum music. [Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes is a favorite.]
  • Summer’s true arrival for you is when the lightning bugs start glowing at dusk.
  • The family unit you were raised in, or the family atmosphere of unconditional love that enveloped you as a child.
  • Your educational backgrounds may be different, but you each chuckle at those crazy Three Stooges instead of The Marx Brothers.
  • Your spiritual beliefs and the path you walk. And why.

Whatever it may be, getting below the surface conversations is what it takes to meet someone at a shared point, to find a mutual reference of understanding.

Think about a close friend. What line got crossed in your relationship when you discovered one thing that lessened your disparities and allowed you to connect?

Dig in with someone you have a casual friendship with to discover depths you’ve been missing. What has knowing this person added to your life — something new introduced that you wouldn’t have otherwise been aware of? Can you create additional connections with them?

Aren’t these bonds we develop with each other a reason to revel in the uniqueness of each person we draw into our lives? Author of The Writer’s Travel Journal — for your adventures. Essayist of humor, grief, & family — they go together.

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