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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lost, Shoes, Mirrors

First order of business this week is, of course, the new look. In honor of 2011 (can you tell I'm excited for a new year?), I've changed everything up. So enjoy that, Coffee Lovers.

This week I started watching the hit TV show Lost. I'm a little late to be jumping on the bandwagon, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm, officially, an addict. The intrigue, the subplots, the mystery - the show has reeled me in completely. But the one thing that has me astounded more than anything else is the characterization.

So far, every episode I've watched (the first nine) has been dedicated to the back story of a different character on the island. They all lead rather extraordinary lives. My favorite character, Sayid, for example, is an ex-member of the Iraqi Republican Guard. My other two favorite characters are Charlie and Sun - rock star and the daughter of a Korean dignitary, respectively.

As I watched all of these people's life stories unfurl on screen, I became increasingly doubtful. What are the chances, I was asking myself, that this many interesting people are on one plane together? I satisfied the answer to that question with: well, what are the chances they land on a semi-magical island that moves around in time and space and makes dead men put on gray suits and walk around in the jungle?

But I was thinking about it again while watching the eighth episode of the show for the second time. Sure, a large percentage of the people on this island lead very interesting lives and carry around very interesting pasts. But what is to say that isn't accurate? Are there really grounds to assume that the majority of people we run into at the grocery or drive past on the freeway or live next to in the neighborhood don't lead rather mind blowing lives? Are we right to even assume that we ourselves don't lead interesting existences?

I'm sure you all remember that old saying: You don't know a person unless you've walked in their shoes. It's a good one, no? But I think we should revise it to read: You don't know yourself until you've looked at yourself from the shoes of another person.

Our lives are not only our own. They are looked at, examined, thought about, pondered, watched , and judged by all of the people that live around us. And one person's opinion is not the same as another's. It's probably also worth pointing out that no one has a very accurate image of their life and how it compares to others. Let's not forget the other old saying: Familiarity breeds contempt.

We are all people of layers - people with pasts, mistakes forgotten, mistakes remembered, and personal triumphs. But sometimes we forget just how complex we are, and how incredible our lives must seem. Da Vinci wrote his journals in such a way that they could only be read in a mirror. In some ways, we are like that. We cannot read ourselves back until we are held up to a mirror and given the opportunity to decode our own backwards handwriting.

Next time your coffee gets to be feeling a little watered down, I recommend looking at yourself critically and asking: What do others see?

The answer to that question would probably shock you.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

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