I just finished watching I Am Legend which spawned this though: we are all creatures of context.
And really: duh. But I’m going to expound on it anyway because this is my stupid blog.
Unlike Athena, we are not born fully-formed into the people we are today. We evolve, adapt, and change based on the experiences in our life. Our experiences form our life’s context. And context is vital to understanding someone.
When I meet people, or people meet me, we don’t immediately acquire that context. We only see the person in that moment in time. Spending more time with people builds up your knowledge of the context of their life. You start to see more of their personality which reflects how they see the world. That’s the present context which is useful, but not as important as their past context.
The past context is the one that really formed us. And when adults meet for the first time, there’s much more past context to learn and it takes more time to learn it. Sadly, none of us come with the cliff notes version of our lives to hand someone (although if we did, it would instantly cure all forms of insomnia) — the only way to acquire it is slowly over time.
Being cognizant of this is important to me when meeting new people. I don’t have their life’s context. I don’t understand their relationships with family and friends. I’m evaluating them based on my life’s context and vice versa. I need to let people tell their own story and try really hard not view their life through my context.
[And sadly, I’m not following my own advice and routing this to /dev/null because for some reason I find this is important for me to come back to later.]