This morning at about 6:30AM or so, I was getting ready to leave for work when it appeared as if everyone was rustling about for one reason or another. As I was getting ready to head out the door someone had just come in with an urgent errand, and two people were just getting up. It was pretty striking to see five people racing around to go to three separate places at the same time, even though I wasn’t aware it was a race until it was already underway. From what I could gather, at least, no one was aware it was a race until about 6:30AM or so, when we were on a race for different reasons. I was racing off to work in my little car, three of the others were racing off for more unpleasant business, and the other person was racing his brave little moped to his own job next door. At some point, likely in the evening, we will all be back where we started from, to eat and to talk about our days and to read and play computer games and get ready to repeat the same process, without the same synchronicity, the next day.
Days like today are a reminder of the complicated threads of drama in our lives. I often look at life, both my own and those around me, as being some kind of movie or sitcom. Our own lives, even different segments of our own lives, have different genres . This is certainly the case with my life. My working life, often to my great personal pleasure, resembles a humorous sitcom, and I have often thought that a mockumentary of my work life would be something that would appeal to a wide variety of people. I do not say this only because I am conceited and think myself more entertaining than I am, but rather because I find myself greatly entertained by those around me and I do not consider myself particularly easy to please. Today, for example, my lunch hour reading was brightened by a coworker discussing her love of a particular Chinese historical series that she binge watches, while during the course of the day a coworker and I engaged in a mutual and friendly display of oneupmanship in a meme war. There was also the matter of a guest executive discussing the joys of having one version of truth and some investigative matters various people were involved in, and the result is a pleasant and delightfully odd day, and that is not even mentioning the drama of a coworker’s car breaking down during his lunch break or the mid-afternoon snack break taken by a couple of coworkers and I that included a stuffed sheep toy that made a noise like that out of an industrial rock guitarist. Any one of these threads could make for an entertaining plot line for an episode of a work-based sitcom.
And that is only my day. Who is to say what kind of day we would see if we looked at the lives of those whom I interacted with? At least one of the stories could likely make for part of a compelling Lifetime family drama, in which I have a somewhat minor but not insignificant part. There are no doubt many different genres represented among the people whose lives intersect my own. What is the life of the cop who speeds one on the road or lurking in weight for speeders along the route? What is the life of the person who fills the gas tank in my car? What are the hopes and dreams and experiences by the various guests who visit my office from time to time, or the janitorial staff or the people who fill the snack machines my coworkers use, or the people I go to church with? All of these people and many others have their own lives, and in some of those stories I may be barely visible as an extra or background character, in some I will be a supporting character, perhaps comic relief, and in some people’s stories I will even be a blocking character or antagonist, a barrier between someone who is a hero or heroine in his or her own eyes and their own ambitions or peace and comfort.
How often are we aware of that? I am aware of at least some of the complexity of how my own life intersects with others, and while it does not ultimately change how I choose to live my own life, it does make me more compassionate to those whose interactions with me are less than consistently pleasant. I understand that others see me differently than I see myself, and the reverse is certainly true, but that realization does not make awkward interactions any less awkward. Self-awareness does not automatically change one’s struggles to swimming successes, or one’s difficulties in communication and interaction into textbook examples of how people charm others with charisma and pleasing manners. To know and to do are not the same thing. They are not so for me and they are not so for anyone else. Often I wonder if my great interest in knowing and my extreme restraint in doing remove a great deal of pleasure in my life. Certainly I am at times painfully reminding that my doing or lack of doing has an influence on the lives of those around me, much of which I find greatly unwelcome to know. No one asked me my opinion, though. No one has to, given how freely give it, after all.
 See, for example: