The rain is pouring endlessly outside, the skies are a nice dismal shade of gray, I hear the loud reverberations of a flashy storm, and my mind is sincerely and completely awake. Contrary to what is evident on my blog, I’ve been writing a lot lately. Perhaps later this year the occasion will present itself for me to share some of the more ambitious fruits of my near two-month sabbatical. However, you can breathe for now as I am back.
I’m dreadfully opposed to that which is boring. Being that I am in constant fear of suffering from the irritation brought upon by all things mundane, I am on a lifetime journey of finding and following all that intrigues me. I met someone intriguing a few weeks ago and today I’m sharing that story.
The setting: a train station somewhere in Canada.
The time: truly irrelevant.
The plot: He stood there, looking around in a nervous way. I stood back and watched his neurotic behavior with a bit of amusement. There were a handful of other people in the vicinity and after looking intently at a few of them, he walked up to me and so it began.
He needed directions and I needed a distraction.
After I answered his questions, our real conversation began. He was alone, travelling Canada, and doing some soul-searching.
Him: Jewish and born in Israel.
Me: Muslim and born in Pakistan.
You’ve seen news reports from around the world and so have I, you would think that being two people with such characteristics that would historically imply that we not get along, our conversation would have ended. But it didn’t.
He was in his twenties, figuring life out and so was I.
He liked meeting people and discovering things and so did I.
He condemned violence, especially that which is based on religious affiliation, and so did I.
He enjoys the occasional joke and of course I do as well.
He sleeps with his eyes closed at night and – spoiler alert – I do as well.
He told me about the time his grandfather was kidnapped and presumably killed by rebels and I told him about the time my uncle was murdered by fundamentalists. Unnecessary loss based on man-made divisions: another thing we had in common.
If you cut his arm open and did the same to me, we’d both bleed the same red.
You can see where I’m going with this; the glaring reality was that we were very much alike.
The first thing people do when meeting others is point out the differences between themselves, but in reality we are all a lot more alike than we let on. I much rather prefer similarities to differences: they make me feel more at ease and more like a part of something bigger, better, and more universal.
He went back to the small streets of Israel and I stayed back in the open expanses of Canada, but we did two things that day:
1) We found unlikely friends in each other.
2) We let our words – and not our histories – dictate our interactions.
Want to hear something funny?
So a Muslim and a Jew walk out of a train station, and the world spun on just as it had before. People still committed crimes, people still hated one another, and people still looked for the differences between themselves. Yet a small fragment of hope was born out of an unlikely friendship between two people who saw the future as more optimistic than the past.
P.S I tried my hand at German a few weeks ago and failed remarkably. It turns out that I am equally as unsuccessful at Hebrew. Oy vey.