We meet quite a few people over the course of our lives. Some you meet at a dinner party and never see again, some you know from working in the same building, and some you have as friends for a lifetime. Whichever is the case, even the people you are closest to - how well do you actually know them? Perhaps we learn mostly what is convenient to know. Perhaps we share only what we believe is necessary to be revealed. Information is being consumed at an unprecedented rate, however, how much tells the true story of one's life?
All people act in their own self-interest. That doesn't mean we are all selfish, but we are all hard-wired for self-preservation and reveal accordingly. There are many things we are conspicuous about, because that is the image of ourselves that we want portrayed. Certain details are kept private and remain that way for a lifetime. However there is much information in between that is periodically granted access to based on trust and circumstance. For instance, I may not mind if the world knows that I am fond of Italian food, yet the details of my Italian travels may be carefully disseminated or protected.
My main point here is not that we all keep secrets, but how well do we actually know the people - friends, lovers, family members - whom we count as closest? What kind of effort do we make? Everyone has something unique going on in their lives; we all have triumphs, and we all have challenges. Each one of us has our own unique path, and many journey alone. What intrigues me in all of this is not how this is really quite obvious, but if the people closest to you were all thought of as books, how well would you know each book? Furthermore, what role do you play in their autobiography?
There are many distractions on this road of life. Sometimes we miss the signs or just ignore them altogether. How many of the following questions would you be able to answer about the people with whom you spend time every day:
1. What is your life's ambition?
2. Who do you miss right now?
3. What is something about you that most people don't realize?
4. How will you like to be remembered?
5. What was your best day?
6. What challenge are you facing right now, and how can I help?
7. What do you think about most outside of work?
8. If you could be anywhere right now, where would that be?
9. What inspires you?
10. What makes you happy?
11. What would be the title of this chapter of your life in your autobiography?
12. Genie appears from the lamp. What are your three wishes?
13. What event would you most like to be a part of?
Perhaps, in delving into the true content of the books on our shelves, our lives will all be a little richer for it. Perhaps we will unlock stories we never could have imagined.