27 May, 2008

Vague for the sake of being vague

Location: the corners of my mind
Mood: intrigued, to say the least

Did you ever discover something about a person that you considered to be quite a substantial discovery, after knowing them for a fair amount of time? I am not talking about finding out that someone is a serial killer, or that they have a rabbit fetish, but just little tidbits that change your perception about them, in a positive way, or a negative way? Usually a positive way, though.

I love it when that happens.

There was some guy who I used to know at work, when I worked at the Bloedel Hearing Research Center. And I knew him as one of the computer guys - an IT guy. He wrote software for various applications, and he dealt with server or computer issues, as they arose. He had a decent sense of humor - dry - and he was reasonably quiet. So I didn't know him well at all. Then one time, I was invited to a work barbecue, and discovered that he was driving a really old, refurbished vehicle. So I asked him about it, and it turned out that this was a deep passion of his. He owned more than one vehicle, and is incredibly knowledgeable about them. This is what he lives for, but you don't really know about that in day-to-day life.

Another example. There was a woman who was responsible for doing all of the rodent breeding and care-giving in the lab that I did my doctorate. She was again, a quiet woman, and she did not share very much of her personal life at all. But you'd probably figure that she has a few friends, and maybe she watches TV a lot, or that she has some cats, or whatever. Well, it turns out that she has her pilot's license, and was an avid flyer. And when you get to talking about it with her, you find out that she has even crashed a plane before, and lived to tell about it! And it was a deep passion and skill of hers. Again, who would have ever known.

I guess people are surprised sometimes when they find out at work that I am also a guitar player in a band. And sometimes they'll say something like "so do you get together and jam with other people?" because they usually don't expect you to be playing in clubs. And then they will say "so do you play rock and roll? do you write your own songs?" and so on. And to them, this is an intrigue. But to me, it's just obvious! This is what I do. This is where my mind is, when I am not here. This is my passion.

And the really cool part is that everyone, or I should say, most people, have a passion.

It's true that some people just sit and watch television all the time, and too bad for them. But almost everyone has something that they do that is unique or interesting or unusual, at least.

I found out that my former manager at work here is into doing GPS-based treasure hunts!

My manager before that builds robots and enters them in competitions where the goal is to destroy the opponent's remote-control robot! And they're good! They're running regional champion! This is their passion.

Another colleague works at a shelter for homeless people and he speaks fluent Japanese (and he's Caucasian).

These are all things you don't know just by looking at a person, and it is exciting to think about this hidden, surprising side of all of us. It's not even so much that it's hidden. I suppose some people's hobbies are willfully kept a secret, for whatever reason. But most of us haven't shared our passions simply because you haven't asked.

So... I love it when I learn something new and unique, and special about a person. And I have to say, in some ways these discoveries can instantly endear me to a person because there's a new dimension - and now I need to reassemble that entire puzzle around the new information. The world becomes a larger place, for no other reason than because of an increase in my own awareness.

I guess that wasn't really very vague after all. But if you knew what got me writing this, then you'd see how it is that I was being vague. Because I am thinking about a cool example of this phenomenon that just occurred. But I'm keeping that one to myself.

So there.


  1. Someone I once dated (whose name is the same as a famous Greek goddess of War) had a really cool "signature line" on their MySpace page, which has stuck with me this whole time:

    "Surprise me... but in a good way"

    I always liked that.

  2. fie.

    and some people have nothing to offer whatsoever and are actually quite boring.