Today I had a mini-lesson in imagining people complexly.
Imagining people complexly is a thing which young adult writer and Youtube sensation John Green talks about all the time. Basically – let’s try to imagine other people as complexly as we know ourselves. Other people are people too, and they have thoughts and ideas and hopes and dreams and good days and bad days and extenuating circumstances and motivations that we can only guess at. We ought to remember that other people have rich inner lives just like we do, and try to live our lives in a way that accounts for and respects other peoples’ complexities.
I often struggle with this, since I am usually right about everything and I find it difficult to understand how anyone could not experience the world in exactly the same (obviously correct and brilliant) way that I do.
Like today: I was picking something up at my parents’ house and had a short conversation with my (kind of surly) father. He grouched, “Crappy weather, huh?”
Crappy weather, huh – Huh??
It’s almost fifty degrees and sunny today. The snow is starting to melt from inconvenient spots (like the parking lot where I keep my car). I put on my light winter jacket and I rolled my window down a bit while I was driving and I was singing along at top volume levels to a SPRING playlist and for the first time in weeks I felt something akin to JOY.
Crappy is not how I would describe that, and I had to wonder how could anyone become cranky with weather like this?
Of course my Dad works at the family farm on Sundays and I guess all the melty stuff makes something about that work very difficult to complete (I zoned out a little there…) and that is why according to my father this weather is crappy, and why I found him rather surlier than you would expect a man to be on this lovely day with an evening of football and beer stretched out ahead of him.
This is a very mild example of imagining someone complexly. I didn’t have to do much imagining, really, since he explained himself almost immediately.
Still – it serves as a nice reminder to us all. Nothing is simple and we do not all think the same. Although I will maintain that if everyone thought like me the world would be an awesome place (or would it? I bet nothing would ever get done and the world needs stuff to get done, probably), it is a pretty interesting exercise to imagine others as like us (but also not like us) in their complexity.