We tend to see ourselves and one another in a multifarious number of lenses with an infinitesimal total of combinations. These lenses are usually cultivated through roots like social upbringing, education and culture. A biologist may see people as a living museum that carries millions of years of evolution; a religious individual may see people as the work of a greater power; a business man may view people as working capital; and none of them are wrong or right, though definitely unique in their perspective.
As someone who loves visual art and literature, I happen to view people as houses of stories. The current makeup of every individual is an accumulation of the stories they’ve acquired. So when I meet a person who’s profoundly different than I am or catches my interest, I’m always seeking for the opportunity to hear their stories, especially ones I’ve yet to hear. What I’ve found is that every two individuals – no matter how similar or different at face – will have at least one story that’s near identical, and another that neither of them have heard before. For me, persistently finding that story(ies) that connects me and another individual has been the chief process in allowing me to acquire a wide variety of people into my life. And allowing me to hear their stories has been my blessing.
Beyond individual people, I see stories in everything around me well. I want to know the story of the tree that grew a funny path and that one of the old house that refuses to decay around a new urban neighborhood. When I looked down at Seattle from the Sky View Observatory yesterday, I saw a living web of stories from cars, to every lit up window on the face of skyscrapers; all things, people, places exchanging and acquiring stories.
As someone who wants to “write” my ideal story, I think it’s imperative for me to also be a story collector, which is what pushes me to continuously meet new people, go to new places and try new things. We never lose the stories that we’ve amassed, but we can certainly change them as we add new ones.