Living Among People

A few posts ago, I wrote Living with Yourself, a post about the importance of having solitary times just to yourself. This post about the importance of having relationships with people, then, is a compliment to Living with Yourself. My Art History instructor last summer at Fullerton College, although talked to much and was kind of annoying, had this great phrase- “what is your story?” This idea being a true interest in what makes the person you’re conversing with unique. What’s their views on things, what makes them excited and why, etc. You look across a crowd, you see a sea of people- hard to identify the individualities. Yet everyone is an individual and have very unique views of the world.

This week, I returned to school after my semester off. The past five months have been lived in solitude, more or less. Locked in a tiny apartment, my only human contact was my mom. I love my mom and get along very well with her, but it made me aware of the importance of being and interacting with people.

With a firm sense of who you are and what you need in your life, you’re ready to go out to the world and complete yourself. We live in a world of people, so we have to learn to be with other people, even if you’re a semi-hermit like me. My Uncle Chen (Qigong master) once said that monks and priests aren’t in any position to give advice to common people. Monks and priests who live high in the mountains, or even those in a office in a city church, do not live in the real world as far the majority of the population is concerned. They probably don’t deal with the problems of “the common man” or “the common woman.” If so, how are they supposed to know how the common man or woman feels and suggest how to deal with the common life? These “spiritual consultants” probably don’t have bosses to deal with, job security to worry about, spouse problems, rebelling teenagers, etc.

Let me describe two examples that parallels this idea. I’m an engineering and econ major, so I’ll make use of these two subjects that I know the best. Mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and biologists do a lot of research and come up with a lot of theories, models, and equations to describe our world. But all these are are ideal situations. The job of the engineer is to take these ideal concepts and apply it to the real world, where it’s messy and non-ideal. I’m taking Econometrics this semester, basically social statistics. What that means is that we have to disregard all the nice and clean formulas statisticians use in their experiements because the real world is messy…more over, we can’t do experiments in the real world. We can’t, for instance, cut the U.S. GDP in half just to see what it does.

The point of this example and how monks and priests aren’t in any position to give advice is that IT IS IMPORTANT TO GET OUT INTO THE WORLD AND LIVE AMONGST PEOPLE. When you ask someone “what is your story?” you’re opening the door to a whole new world…their world. A lot of Sci-Fi stories like Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek captivates audiences because they explore new worlds in each episode.

There’s no need for that though, because we have so many worlds to explore right around us, in the people we’re surrounded by. Who knows what you’ll find in other people’s worlds, maybe ideas that intrigues you or ideas that makes you feel just a bit more complete. They might introduce you to the activities in their lives, mountain climbing, hockey, etc. that just might make your life more interesting. Or, they might introduce you to a genre of music that just hits the spot after a hard day- then hard days at work just don’t seem that bad anymore. The worlds out there are almost endless, and so are the possibilities. Go out there and explore.

Until the next post, your thoughts and comments…

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