My husband and I were out of town recently and I was flipping through the television channels in our hotel room. I stopped briefly at a show that seemed to be devoted to exterminators, in this case dealing with a family that had raccoons in their attic. Arriving home, I happened to glance at a Wall Street Journal piece describing the latest job for unemployed actors in New York – helping homeowners and tenants rid their residences of bed bugs. And I was struck by a common theme.
No, not that there is apparently a good living to made in the extermination business. I was actually struck by the tremendous variety among human beings and the kinds of jobs they enjoy.
On another trip, we stopped the remote at a show that I think is called Dirty Jobs. This episode featured a dentist for large animals who was trying to do some work on a moose’s teeth (Was this what he always dreamed of doing when he was growing up?) You couldn’t pay me enough to do that one… but there really is something for everyone – and everyone for something! And it’s awe-inspiring.
Whenever I am at an aquarium I am awed by the enormous variety of species, by their colors, shapes and sizes. But nothing is more interesting to observe than our fellow human beings. The differences in passions and vocations, in appearance, in style, in language, in dress – are all so fascinating. And that’s just the external. The difference in our internal lives and psyches is infinitely greater.
The aquarium can be quite expensive but you can people watch free of charge. My husband says it’s one of things he likes about airports: as you stand there waiting for you party, you can watch the other passengers and their families without any self-consciousness, without any pretense of being involved in another activity.
Of course it’s fun to go out to dinner and imagine the lives of the other couples in the restaurant. It can be a game to speculate about the passenger beside you on the plane or train. But their real life stories probably beat anything our imaginations can conjure.
There are awesome experiences available throughout the world – mountains and lakes, reefs and falls, rainbows and sunsets. And throughout our lives – childbirth and first steps, sunshine and thunderstorms, flowers and the first snow.
But sometimes we miss the most awesome experience of all, the one that’s right in front of our face at almost any given moment, the most elegant and complex of the Almighty’s creations – another human being.