November 4, 2007.
I’ve always loved people and found them fascinating. I like to know their stories and understand what makes them tick. I find their quirks endearing. I suppose that’s why I like acting, because it’s a way for me to step inside another human experience. Like anyone else, I also get highly annoyed by people. I hate bad drivers, loud talkers in movies, anyone who condescends to me, and just inconsiderate behavior in general. I thought that would always be part of life. Lately, however, I’m starting to see people so differently that I can’t respond to them in the same way anymore. It’s a gradual shift- not like I’m all of a sudden tolerant 100% of the time- but it’s a definite shift.
Take this as you will, but I have come to believe that each person is a unique and perfect manifestation of God or Love or Intelligence or whatever you want to call it. I have come to believe that there is no separation between that Intelligence and any of the manifestations we call humans. I have come to believe that there is no separation between human beings themselves. And I have come to believe that each of us chooses to be born into these lives to further our evolution and that we have probably had many incarnations. What I’m getting at is that these beliefs have changed the way I see and interact with people.
The other night I was sitting in a very crowded movie theatre, anxiously waiting to see if the rest of the audience would cooperate by watching the film in silence. All was well until, just as the movie was starting, a woman and her boyfriend took the only two empty seats next to me. Of course they turned out to be the sort of people who can’t understand a plot without re-hashing it in whispered tones to each other. And the guy was crunching his popcorn and accidently kicking me and his armrest was broken and kept swinging in my direction. It wasn’t as bad as it may sound but it was bad enough and I was about to turn to him and let him have it. Something along the lines of, “If you intend to talk though the entire movie, find another place to sit.”
So I looked over at him and suddenly I just saw him, very simply, for who he was without my judgments. He was tall and having trouble finding a place to put his legs. He had an open, happy face that was eager to see the film. He was hungry and enjoying his popcorn. His girlfriend was the one who didn’t get the plot so he was helping her to understand. I felt a kick in my stomach for even considering lashing out him. He was just being who he was- the best him he knew how to be in that moment. He wasn’t trying to bother me and probably would’ve been shocked had I snapped at him. Maya Angelou says, we are all doing what we know to do. And when we know better, we do better.
A few weeks ago, at Agape International Spiritual Center, Michael Beckwith was leading the crowd in a meditation. We all had our eyes closed and he talked about how every single person in the building was in our lives, at that moment, for a reason. Each person was connected to us through Love. Each person was an extension of ourselves. He said, “Every human that you come into contact with is a divine manifestation of Love. They are your long lost brothers and sisters. You always knew them but you forgot that you knew. If you understood who they really were, you would treat them as if they were the ones you had been waiting for your entire life. Now open your eyes and act accordingly.” Of course the love, joy, and humor that filled the building at that that moment was overwhelming.
Since then, I have been unable to look at a single person without wondering, Who are you really? Who are you trying to become? Why have our paths crossed at this specific moment in time? What are you here to teach me and what am I here to teach you? It’s a humbling way to look at those around me- the homeless guy, my boss, the driver who cuts me off, my husband, the waitress who serves me… There truly are no strangers; just friends I haven’t seen in a very long time.