Like many of you I have spent the last week wondering about the many, many people in this country that I do not understand. I have reached out privately to a handful of people to ask simply “Help me to understand.”
No matter which side of the aisle you call home it is quite likely that you have recently become painfully aware that there is a huge population of people that think, act, feel differently than you. We live in a world where we can carefully cultivate our social media feeds and our friendships. Through the simple act of sharing time with people with whom we have mutual interests we insulate ourselves from those that are different.
This morning I took the girls to see a bit of the Central Carolina Synchro Classic before church. I was sitting on the floor of the ice rink looking around before the skaters performed. Hundreds of families gathering to watch their kids perform feats of synchronized figure skating. The makeup, the hair, the costumes, the anticipation. Judges and banners and accessories that I had never seen before. It was like I was inside a scene that I didn’t even know existed before this morning.
And then the kids “took the ice.” (See? That’s a phrase, take the ice, that I didn’t even know until this morning.) It was amazing. I had no idea what I was watching. It was like watching football games when I was young. It was exciting. All of those people, the music, the uniforms, and the equipment and the cheering. I had not a clue what I was looking at. So they were spinning in a circle and holding hands and I started wondering “Is this good? Are these kids really great? Is this impressive? I have no idea.” The only figure skating I see regularly is the Olympic skating on television. The only skating I have seen in person is the Ice Capades. I really had no frame of reference.
This morning’s trip to see the skaters didn’t start out as a political statement. I was not crossing a great divide to mingle among the skaters. I was simply indulging my little one’s interests because she will be skating as a mouse in our local Nutcracker on Ice this year. Before I volunteer to help out I figured I had better get an idea of what this stuff is all about. But all of a sudden I realized I was sitting in a large room with hundreds of people that I didn’t understand. I had no idea what it takes to be doing what they’re doing. But I could admire it.
It was wonderful. And sparkly.
I am going to try so very hard in coming weeks to put myself into groups of people that I don’t understand, groups of which I am not a part. Because I don’t know what I might find. As I was leaving this morning I ran into an old friend from high school. Haven’t seen her since probably 1993ish? I wouldn’t have run into her if I just stayed in my box where I belong.
I triple dog dare you to go out into the world and seek out some people that are different than you. It doesn’t have to be a different political ideology or an ethnicity that is different than yours to start. Just open your eyes and see if there is something right in front of you that you don’t usually see. For me – there is a synchronized ice skating team that practices at the gym. And I have never really seen them until today. And it turns out that they’re wonderful. And sparkly.