Monday, January 19, 2015

Talking to Strangers

Last week on my lunch break I was riding my bike back to the office. My headphones were broken, so the only thing I could do while riding was enjoy the scenery and think. In hindsight, I'm not really sure why I bought new headphones this past weekend, since I really appreciated that thinking time.

For instance, on that day on my lunch break I was thinking about how I act when a stranger comes up and starts talking to me. I always get very defensive in those moments because I know that the person wants something from me.

Think about it: 100% of the time, when someone comes up to you on the street, they're always doing so with an agenda. I've become adept at lying through my teeth when someone asks me for change, feigning empathy and regret for being unable to help them.

I'm not a very charitable person--not on the street, anyway. At least, not anymore. My empathy has been mostly drilled out of me, replaced by skepticism, a jadedness I've worked hard to avoid in so many other areas of my life. I regret this change in myself, that it's so automatic--that the moment somebody catches my eye and they start to approach, I know that they're going to want something from me. I close myself off reflexively, and from that moment my only goal is to extract myself from the situation.

I thought about all of this as I pedaled my way back to the office. And I started to wonder what I'd do if a stranger ever talked to me, not to get something from me, but simply to be friendly. I hoped that I'd recognize the difference, that I'd smile and respond in kind. I hoped that my jadedness hadn't completely taken over, that I could drop my suspicion in the right circumstances and enjoy a new connection, even briefly.

It was at pretty much that exact moment, as I stopped to wait at a crosswalk, that another biker rode up next to me. We caught each others' eyes for a moment, then I focused on the road ahead of me, waiting for the light to turn.

"Nice bike," said the other guy in a friendly manner.

"Thanks," I said. I glanced at his bike. It was a pretty good-looking bike as well. I didn't say anything about it.

"Where are you headed?" he asked. He seemed happy to have another biker around, and it was clear we were headed the same direction.

I pointed vaguely down the road, gave him a landmark close-ish to the office. I was brief, and I never met his eyes again.

"Ah," he said, sounding slightly disappointed.

We stood there silently for maybe two seconds, maybe a half an hour, when the light finally turned and we set off, each going the same way, each in silence.

So, well, at least now I know. I've never been much of a talker, whether with strangers or not, so I can't blame my anti-social moment entirely on my jadedness, on being suspicious of strangers... but it certainly didn't help, either.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Learning New Things

Lately I've been doing a lot of two things: exploring Unity and playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. Perhaps it's just because when you do two things at the same time you automatically associate the two, but I've been finding a lot of parallels between these two seemingly different activities.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Prodigal Son

Lately I've been thinking about the parable of the Prodigal Son. It's one of the most famous of Jesus's parables, and I don't think people refer to it correctly. So, I'd like to talk about the parable itself, why I've been thinking about it, and why I'm more concerned with the older brother than the younger one.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Resolutions - A Review


At the beginning of the year I set some goals for myself. Let's see how I've done.