I recently blogged about a short XKCD comic series in which someone is encouraged by a time/dimension traveler version of them self to overcome resistances to living life. Their other form (that they meet in space) tells them to take wrong turns, open unmarked doors, and to engage people in conversation when you feel the whim.
There are so many adventures you miss out on because you’re waiting to think of a plan.
The lesson was one I’d heard many times before, and that I already embrace, but it was done in such a way that it still had a significant impact on me. So today, just a few minutes ago, while sitting in an airport in New York, I put my this newly invigorated concept into practice.
A buddy of mine and I were discussing multiculturalism and MLK’s “I have a dream” speech. Specifically, he wanted me to read the speech again and determine whether it stressed unity or multiculturalism. I did so, and concluded that the focus was unity.
Just as I finished responding to him via Blackberry, an older black woman wearing colorful African clothing and sporting dreadlocks sat down a couple seats from me. The thought crossed my mind for just one second that I was curious as to what her opinion was, but it was fleeting. The vision of a youngish white guy asking an older black woman out of the blue what her opinion of the “I have a dream” speech should show you why most would be reticent to proceed.
So I did nothing. For about 30 seconds.
I then remembered the message from the comic — about how the right way to live life is to engage when you see the chance of a good conversation. Don’t hide. Don’t worry. Don’t assume the worst. Just do it. Just live.
And I did. I handed her my Blackberry, showed her the question my buddy had sent me, and asked her opinion on the matter. We talked for a few minutes, and I ended up giving her my whole theory on multiculturalism. On how the melting pot was meant to create a homogeneous liquid, and how the progression toward “many countries” within America is a near guarantee of disaster.
Aside from the obvious shock due to the fact that we were having the conversation at all, she clearly enjoyed the exchange and actually acknowledged that it was a problem (perhaps for the first time?). Finally we agreed that the answer was an elusive one. It was very cool that the discussion even took place at all — and even more so that it was so positive.
So I thank the Internet. I thank the author of XKCD. And I encourage others to share their thoughts as Randall Munroe did. They do actually make a difference.: