Seeing People For Who They Are

It all started with a very enjoyable evening.  I was at a birthday party of a friend of mine.  I did not know most people there and I enjoyed meeting them all.  Every time I struck a conversation with someone I had a nagging desire to ask them what they do for a living.  I dislike it when people are direct and ask: “What do you do?”  It just seems rude to me, so I was trying to fish for the answer in a round-about, unobtrusive way.  I am always this way.  I always want to know what a person does when I meet them.  Why?  So that I can make them out, so I can find a common ground, so I know where I stand in life compared to them.  All these reasons seemed so right until the end of the evening when we headed home with my sweetheart.

He said to me: “I noticed that you kept on asking people what they do.”  So much for me thinking that I was subtle!

“Most people are ordinary people and they have ordinary jobs.  After you ask them, they ask you in return and your answer makes them feel uncomfortable.  You shouldn’t do that.”  I reluctantly agreed with him and kept on thinking about my reasons for being so curious about people’s occupations and what do I gain from knowing the answer right away.

Fun events where I meet new people are always so enjoyable for me.  Yet,  I did myself such a disservice that night for approaching people as people who are defined by their careers rather than seeing them as souls.

I always say that I am so much more than what I do.  So were the people I met that night.  The most wonderful person I met, whose story will stay with me, was a man who was an oil truck driver in New York City.  He was in his late 40s with a salt and pepper hair and handsome Italian features. He was a very warm hearted and patient man who had such a profound understanding about life.  Have I stopped our conversation at what his day job was I would have missed on the pleasant experience of chatting with him and appreciating how wise and centered he was.

I should approach people with an open mind and see them for who they are, and not judge them for the jobs they have.  When I ask someone what they do I get such a little piece of the story.  It does not tell me who they are, what excites them and what makes them feel uplifted.  It does not tell me if they experienced true love or if they feel satisfied with where life finds them now.  It does not tell me what their challenges and soul lessons are.  It does not tell me how their current life fits into the puzzle of the numerous lives that that person’s soul has had.

When I judge people I rob myself of the opportunity to witness a person for who they are and to really experience their soul.  There is so much more to each one of us than the place we find ourselves daily.  There is such a unique richness of character, passion, beauty and grace in each one of us.  All it takes is an open mind to give them and myself the gift of truly seeing them.

I will be going to another party in a few days and I look forward to encountering the souls of the people I meet.

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