The December 5, 2021 edition of T – The New York Times Style Magazine quotes Hayao Miyazaki as saying, “When you meet something that is very strange that you haven’t met before, instead of being scared of it, try to connect with it.”  It is a simple statement with many similar permutations and vast implications.  


The fact is, the impulse to understand and judge gets in our way.  That impulse is its own construct.  It is one that we take as a given, but it is simply an assumption we’ve never examined.  


I had a spontaneous conversation with a middle aged woman at a memorial service last week who reminded me that this assumption still works within me despite my intention to transcend it.  As we began to speak, she gave me two signals that I took at face value.  She described herself as “always looking for two pennies to scrape together” and winced at the suggestion that completing her MBA in her 30’s must have been a great experience.  


Without realizing it, I subconsciously crafted a perception that she was impoverished.  What our continued conversation revealed was that she had enjoyed a fascinating, satisfying, unconventional career in the fashion industry, even starting her own label.  She had designed her own clothes as well as managed the business.  While she may not have vast financial fortunes, she was rich in experience, vitality, creativity, and agency.  


By the end, I felt our conversation ended too quickly.  What had I known at the outset?  Nothing.  I had even used her cues to construct a faulty first impression, ostensibly from the information she herself provided.  I had not factored that she might be sending false signals.  Absent curiosity, I could easily have missed her truth and her magic. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>