Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Another analogy -- and a prettier one -- would be to say that people are like diamonds, with many facets. Depending on the situation or the role they're playing, you get to see a different facet.
But I like the layer analogy better because sometimes certain aspects of the person are hidden so deep that nobody gets to see those. Perhaps even the person himself is unaware of what is buried there. The inner core that we all have is exceedingly private.
So whenever I look at people, especially if I'm waiting in line and have plenty of time to look around and observe, I wonder: what lies beneath the surface layer? When I see a businessman stride briskly past me, speaking into his cellphone, totally focused on his call, I wonder what he's like at home, what he's like when he's chilling with friends, what drives him, what makes him get out of bed every morning. Who is the man beneath the suit?
We take each other at surface value a lot of the time. But consider a colleague, for example. The person with the calm, professional demeanour you see at the office -- that's not necessarily the same person she'll be at home with the kids. And it probably won't be the same person she'll be when she's alone with her husband. It's also not the same person she is when she's visiting with her parents, or when she has some quiet time to herself. Oh, in essence she'll be the same; I'm not saying she has multiple personality disorder. But the way she chooses to express herself, respond to people, react to situations, these might change. Not so much swapping one mask for another, but swapping one role for another. Each role brings out a different side of her, in fact requires her to be different.
That's why people are endlessly fascinating. You can never know a person as well as you think you do. They can (and occasionally do) act in ways you consider "out of character". The truth is, it isn't out of character. It's just one more layer being revealed, a layer you never saw before.