The universe, as well as Hollywood films, is filled with stories of two individuals who grew up in similar circumstances yet widely diverged in how they went forward in life. In Hollywood, one becomes good and the other evil. It is a completely worn out trope. To be fair, old myths and sagas have had that same storyline for ages. It is probably because there is something to it. Just this past week, scientists noted that the Milky Way galaxy has a dark twin. This is spooky but familiar stuff to our psyche.
At the root of it all, we always want to know that there was an alternative path to being evil or just plain mean. Its our innate need to think we are good at our core. If both had similar upbringings or environment and one went astray, surely it is that person’s fault. Or so it is thought. Birds of a feather need not have the same path going forward. Why am I thinking or writing about this?
Everyday, when I take a peek at Facebook (not post) I see various groups to which I have belonged in my life path. I see postings from those I knew in junior high school. I see postings from those I knew in High School. I see postings from those I knew in college and various jobs along the way. I shared moments and actions of similarity with all these folks at some point in my life. Yet, many of the paths have been extremely different from one another. I see these postings and I marvel at how life has turned out. In particular I am fascinated by those that I grew up with.
Growing up in the South Bronx meant we were hardy, resilient and perhaps exposed to numerous traumatic, childhood adverse events (what is referred to as ACE). Thus, and I say this not jokingly, there are times when I marvel at the fact that we are still alive. Or rather that they are still alive. I got out fairly early by going to boarding school on a scholarship. And when I left I didn’t really look back. I didn’t think too much as to what would happened to those left behind. I wrote letters to stay in touch Yes, we wrote letters. I still have a few in my memento box that fits under my arm should I ever have to flee. Ok. Yes. I am from the South Bronx. Some thoughts are hard to erase from my brain library. When I started reconnecting with a few on Facebook, I breathed a sigh of relief. They were alive. All the ones I saw on Facebook were not just alive but thriving (well a plurality were). Yet our lives were so different. How we lived differ. Probably how we think differs. Our connections back home differed. This was no Gross Pointe Blank (the movie is John Cusak at his funniest). Our differences make me a bit sad at times. But I am happy to feel the life in them through the pictures they post.
Now, at work this past week, I started thinking about these life paths again. I couldn’t be more different than the majority of my colleagues. Besides the fact that I am a New Yorker (and thus inherently cooler-I jest- a bit) I have a very different outlook on life. Interestingly to me, there is a colleague who maybe sees herself as having a similar life path to me in that she grew up extremely poor and pulled herself up by her bootstraps. We certainly have that in common but our life outlook is extraordinarily different. While I try to feel empathy, she judges and she is ok with that. And who am I to judge? I try to be non-judgmental. I don’t always succeed but I certainly try to take into account people’s life context. We are born with blank slates but those slates rapidly fill up sometimes to no fault of our own. We may both be resilient but we can’t speak a shared language.
Birds of a feather creating a cacophony of experiences.
(photos from Australia’s ocean road)