How well do you really know people? Is your picture of them true to who they really are?
I have this habit of creating really high expectations for people—especially those who I admire or feel strongly about. I put people up on a pedestal and mentally create an idealized version of them and how they fit into my life. When people don’t meet that ideal, I’m disappointed, but that’s when I start to really get to know them. Some people have lived up to the ideal I have created for them, but not exactly in the way I had envisioned. For some rare people, my ideal becomes a dynamic between us that I continue to pursue. It’s based on the potential I see in them and for their relationship with me and not any commitment or promise they’ve made. Ultimately, these idealized versions of people are my creations and my responsibility. Sometimes, I transfer the disappointment I feel when people don’t live up to this standard I’ve created for them, but I know that isn’t fair. It’s important to be aware of how we perceive people and that our perception is likely not the whole picture.
So much of the modern approach to work is based on an antiquated model that is very narrow in scope. You show up in the morning, you work for eight to ten hours, and you go home. Five days a week. The problem with this model is that very few people can actually be productive for that long of a stretch and be consistent for several days in a row. We end up with many people finding ways around this challenge. They break up their days into chunks of time when they are more or less productive, creative, and social. Then they schedule their days accordingly, so that they are not just doing the same thing (or failing to do the same thing) for the whole day. Of course, some people don’t have that luxury and have to do the best they can and try to muscle their way through the day. It’s not ideal.
But what if we considered a different approach? One that takes advantage of the ebbs and flows of individuals’ energy. One that isn’t tied to specific times during the day. One that focuses on the work instead of on the time spent working.
Oh, sure, it has resulted in some good outcomes. Families are able to keep in touch more easily and share pictures of their latest adventures. Old friends can reconnect and have a sort of correspondence, when otherwise they might not have. People are able to be creative and share their creations with the world. But people can also group into like-minded factions, feed on each other’s fears and paranoia, and only acknowledge the information that supports their own perspectives. Social media has supported and sustained the divisions that exist in our society. It has so much potential for good, but social media is like any other tool—it’s only as good as the people whose hands wield it.
Some people are larger than life. They seem to loom large over every interaction we have with them, not because they try to be dominating or because they are necessarily smarter or more talented than anyone else, but because they have a special presence. What is it about these people that makes them so special? They may have attractive attributes, such as intelligence or empathy, but (in my experience) they also may not. They may be successful in life, but they also may be living an “average” life—one that is not particularly accomplished or high profile. I call these people “large-souled,” meaning they have a significant presence in the universe. We may identify different people as being in this category depending on the way we interact with people. Maybe some people don’t recognize this category of people at all or mistake good looks, success, wealth, or charisma for a large soul. I’ve always felt drawn to the large-souled and have aspired to be one myself. Because the qualities of these people aren’t effable, this can be difficult.
How do you fill your hours and days? For many, it just happens; they don’t need to really think about what they’re going to do because they have so much to do. People who have had jobs and other pursuits for many years often look forward to times when they can pull back on the throttle a little, when the demands on their time recede and they have some breathing space. However, time off is really “time on” something else. As the hours go by, you have to fill them with something—because there’s no such thing as doing nothing. You continue to exist. You think, you breathe, and time goes by. You can make your time “mindless” and force feed inane TV (of which I’m a fan on occasion), but ultimately your mind will rebel and desire something more substantial.