Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Who Is Worth Knowing?

Years ago I attended a Fourth of July party at the US ambassador’s residence in Paris. Before you start making assumptions, let me clarify that I did not warrant an invitation to this shindig; I was a tagalong guest of someone who did.

So there I was in the midst of diplomats, political and economic movers and shakers, and of course a sprinkling of celebrities. Before long I started playing a game. First, I would guess how long it would take someone who struck up a conversation to realize that I was not in any of the above categories and start looking over my shoulder scanning the crowd for someone who was. Second, I would guess what excuse the person would offer to leave me as quickly as possible to go talk to someone who mattered.

I was not offended but instead rather curious. How did we become a society with such a narrow definition of success, such a limited range of people worth knowing?

When I think of random people I have enjoyed encountering in my life, I realize that most of them would have been summarily dismissed by the attendees at the Fourth of July celebration. Just recently, for example, some workers were at my house to install a gas line from the street to the meter. While the street was dug up, I wandered out to take a look. I asked a couple of questions, and before long, we were engaged in a lively conversation as they educated me about what lies under the street, what they were doing, and how everything was going to work when they were done. They were knowledgeable and friendly, and I think they appreciated sharing some of their expertise with a clueless customer.

I can think of other conversations where I learned something interesting, something that I would not have discovered if I had not taken the time to be curious. Or perhaps I found common ground with someone who, at first glance, seemed so different from me. We just never know. And we never will if we don’t pause with a willingness to put our assumptions aside and listen.

However, I’m the first to admit that I have also overlooked people. Once while out walking, I overheard a woman speaking about an apparently homeless man pushing a rickety shopping cart down the street. Racing back towards her house, she exclaimed, “Oh I have to go make that man a sandwich. He might be Jesus!” What? I turned to look at the man I had not even noticed, to really look at him, and I’ll be darned if he didn’t have some sort of a glow about him. Not necessarily because he was Jesus, but because he was alive.

We are all holy vessels of creation, fearfully and wonderfully made, filled with the sacred essence of existence. We are, each and every one of us, worthy to be known, because we are known, and loved, by no less than Life itself.

Namaste – the divine in me bows to the divine in you

6 thoughts on “Who Is Worth Knowing?”

  1. We do need to open our eyes and hearts more often. A couple of years ago I was on a cruise ship enjoying a cup of coffee on the back of the ship early one morning. I was in a spot I had sat at for two days and had noticed a man sitting two table over that was in his same spot. I started a friendly conversation with a greeting and quickly found out he was one of the last Vietnamese that left during the Vietnam war and that he left on one of the last planes that was evacuating the embassy in Saigon. It was fascinating to hear his story! Everyone has a story but very few of us ask to hear about it. He also said he takes 10 or more cruises a year. Maybe I will run into him again.

    1. That is a great story, RCS. You are so right that everyone has a story. Sometimes we have to get past initial assumptions to discover it. I was talking to my accountant one year as I finished up taxes. Somehow we got off topic and I found out that he “relaxes” after tax season by going on daring adventures to the most remote, and sometimes dangerous parts, of the world. I never would have guessed. So great that you initiated a conversation that led to knowing something about this person. Even when the story is not “amazing,” we can still enjoy a genuine connection with someone. That in itself is amazing. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Hi Galen. This post is such a great reminder for me as Thom and I prepare for our big travel adventure (three months in Europe.) I sometimes like my shyness (yes I do have such a part!) makes me hesitate to initiate conversations but then like you said, I miss such gifts that everyone has. I tend to be fairly conscious of other people’s presence because I enjoy people watching so much, but that inherent (or habitual) reluctance to start the conversation usually holds me back. But I am going to make an effort going forward to speak up and ask questions. After all, some of my best experiences in life have been the unexpected connections I’ve made with people. May going forward include many more. Thanks for the reminder! ~Kathy

    1. Your comment made me think of all the ways we can acknowledge someone else. For example, I might not start a conversation with everyone I see in the grocery store, but I could take a moment to just look around and connect with our common humanity. I could smile and wave at a child who makes eye contact. I could ask the cashier how their day is going. True, an actual conversation reveals so much more, and I hope that your travels give you many opportunities for some interesting exchanges (can’t wait to read about them on your blog!). But sometimes our shyness or other considerations don’t allow for that. In those cases, a simple gesture or inner awareness reminds me that we are all worth knowing and being known. Thanks for commenting, Kathy, and bon voyage!

  3. Collin Leach

    I like this post a lot. Our complex civilization rests on a broad base of skilled and unskilled labor, much of it unrecognized or appreciated by those that it supports. For reasons that are not completely clear to me I often think about the billionaires in Any Rand’s fictional world who leave our society and go off to live by themselves, isolated from the hoi-polloi. Who do they think is going to repair their limousines or upgrade their gas lines?

    1. Glad you liked it, Collin. As you observed, we have such a skewed valuation perspective. This is reflected in how we allocate money in our society. Look who gets paid the astronomical amounts while others scrape by. Thanks for commenting.

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