We all have a life story. Even if you live under that proverbial rock your entire life, there is a story to that. It just may not be too interesting.
I’ve never thought that my life story was that interesting. Compared to what we see on TV or in stories I do just about live under that rock. As one gets older and meets new people we learn at least a little about their lives and that puts our own lives into perspective. Today I don’t have such a “low” view of my own life story. I have had the opportunity to do a lot of things that other people may not of. I forget if I’ve mentioned it on this blog before or not but I know I have had a fairly fortunate and good life so far. These opportunities as they come in and out of our life story are how we are able to start to define who and what we are. Our awareness of this and the ability to see the wider perspective around our lives are the pinnacle principals of self-awareness and enlightenment.
Today I was walking through campus. Outside. Not normal for me, but there was no indoor path which was nearly as efficient for where I wanted to go. It happens to be a nice day out, so there were a lot of other student-types out and a few other people too. (They must all have the same path efficiency requirements.) RIT is a famous enough and attractive enough institution so there are a lot of people from all over the country and the world that come here. This provides for pretty good people watching. Just walking to my destination I lost count of how many people I spotted that merited a few seconds of deep visual analysis and later mental decomposition.
This probably sounds a little stalker-ish. If you are another current RIT student reading this you may even feel a little violated. Tough.
Warning: The indented section is a tangent I accidentally started off on and didn’t have the heart to delete. Read it for what it is if you wish, but the main point of this article continues after it:
I have always been a people watcher. I attribute it to my lack of general social acceptance at a young age that I became so interested in what makes people and groups work. Why do they make the personal decisions they make? What makes one preference better then the rest? Why does this group accept this but this other group does not? Elementary school is all just confusing nonsense based on childish expectations and viewpoints. The higher grades of grammer school and then eventually high school is where you see all the social cliques formed. It will vary a little from demographic to demographic but in general you even get the same cliques being formed all over the country, or world even. (This would lead one to believe there is some scientific determinate involved here that it is reproduced all on its own so many times, but that is beyond tonights discussion.)
In my current social battleground, a high end university campus, everyone has already been through the stress and the fun and excitement and the turmoil of social cliques and all that and (just as I literally saw myself the week we all graduated from high school) there is eventually a realization that “everyone is alright.” People start to learn how to accept other people.
Since it is nearly impossible to know each and every person I see on campus, and downright ridiculous to know them all deeply and completely, I start to wonder. The logical and “socially conscious” person in me says that they are none of your business and you are not immediately effected by their existence in one bit. You can just leave them be and move on with your life. But that isn’t good enough. Something in me wants to know more. When I see someone who catches my attention (see after the jump for list of things that will catch my attention.) I want to know even more about them even more badly. I start to wonder at first about how the speak, what frame of mind they are from, what their world views are, why they are here now, what they are doing now, what they are going to be doing tomorrow, if they plan for tomorrow or if they just wing it, do they even have a plan for tonight, do they have a plan for 5 years from now, 20 years from now, etc… Those are all the simple questions to me. Those are the sort of things that if I were to sit down with one of these people for some amount of time I could get answers to. If I am unlucky enough to not have anything else to think about at the time however, I will start to think more deeply about these people I see. I will start to wonder all those sorts of questions, but then I will realize that it is not realistic that I will be able to ask them any of that so I will have to get the answers to this problem some other way. I will have to divine their life story in order to answer them myself. Since a persons life story is the very definition of who they are, then it shouldn’t be too hard to do that then. The hard part then of course becomes figuring them out from just a casual look. (Okay I’ll be honest, sometimes I will stare for a while to gather more data.) I feel like I have met enough unique and different people in my short life that I can use all these little qualities about them all that I remember and piece together someone else’s life. It’s like putting together a puzzle, except you only have a vague notion of what the image is and the only pieces you have are from other puzzles.
This can get quite exhilerating if you let it. It is so easy to get caught up in the idea of “creating” this entire life story for someone you have never met and only just once saw briefly. You know this person exists since you just saw them a moment ago, so whatever attributes and ideas you apply to them seem more real, no matter the fact you have nothing solid to prove any of it. Do this enough and you will have a whole little village worth of made up lives in your mind and it starts to get a little overwhelming. All of a sudden the village implodes on itself upon realization that none of it is real. Like all the little people of Whoville waking up on Christmas morning and realizing they are talking funny, and deciding to just sleep it off.
The scientist in me wants to then fix this situation by finding out their real life stories. I want to meet each and every person I see and learn all about them. Everyone should wear t-shirts or jackets or something which sums them up in a few sentences that I can skim as I walk by them. Do you think most people can do that? Describe who and what they are in 2-4 sentences? Lets see:
I am a somewhat-outgoing computer nerd with a fairly mellow and excited view on life. I like to think I know everything, but actually know I don’t and will always embrase a chance to learn more. I seek comfort from my girlfriend and cat, happiness from my computers and Star Trek, and wisdom from the universe around me.
Not bad I’d say. Does a pretty good job of describing me I think. Does it cover my whole life story? Not at all. It more or less covers the summery of what resulted from the last 23 years of reading through my life story. I would of liked to squeeze more in there about pastimes I never get the chance to participate in or my feelings towards eating while doing something you enjoy but we were already pushing it for a t-shirt design.
There are some common sayings that imply that no one wants to know about or hear your entire life story. That it is yours and yours alone. I think that is bogus. I think everyone can learn a lot from everyone else and what they have been through. (If you look at it mathematically, assume it takes 90 years to reach ultimate wisdom. Just as a somewhat random figure. Combine the life experiences of five 20 year olds and, while you would not equal the wisdom of a 100 year old it would be much closer to it. What about three 30 year olds? Two 40 year olds and an 18 year old? Somewhere in there those few people have something to share with the others and advance each other.) Even beyond just wisdom from more or older people, there are all the raw experiences they have had. All the places they have been, other people they have met, things they have done and tried, etc. We start to share some of this information online at some websites even designed for people with a particular interest to gather around and communicate. You see it happening all over the place, but it is very rarely ever so broad. A person is interested in getting a puppy (I wouldn’t know why, but we’ll go with it.) and so they log onto a forum of current, previous and want-to-be puppy owners. They all talk about puppies. The sharing ends there.
I don’t know if anyone else out there wonders about other people like I do but I have enjoyed it so far and you may too. Maybe we can all sit down for coffee one day and tell each other our life stories. That would be fun.
An incomplete list of things that will catch my focused interest: Unique colored body parts, funny clothes, pointy clothes, shinny clothes, clothes which appear to have more volume then the person wearing them, very small people, very large people, ugly people, pretty people (yeah mostly girls but I will recognize that there are some pretty boys out there. I see one in the bathroom mirror every day ), old people, young (baby/toddler) people, someone who appears physically/emotionally/mentally/personally attached to anyone else whom I would otherwise find interesting, quiet people, (not loud people, hate them), people moving slower then the group average, people staring off at things I cannot immediately see what they are staring at, people who appear to be on a mission, people who look like other people I know, people who look like me*.
* I have not yet met anyone who I think looks like me. I just know I would be interested if I ever did.