Unexpected and sometimes enlightening things can happen when sharing a new experience with those who don’t act like you. I got unexpected insights when, with two friends when we walked through the Steins Collection of paintings by Matissse, Picasso and other avant-garde painters in bohemian Paris.
In most every gallery room one friend would sit on the bench in the middle of the gallery, then casually look down. I didn’t understand at first. He was deep in thought, I surmised at first. Yet actually he was closely observing the shoes people were wearing, and there was a wild variety in this art-loving crowd. Following his eyes I saw footwear as diverse as laced up-to-mid-thigh, purple velvet boots to topless sandals. They must have been glued to the soles of the woman’s feet.
Otherwise I might not have noticed that one doesn’t see many shoes in these paintings. Faces appear more often. Yet, when looking at a Picasso, my friend was immediately reminded of shoes he’d seen just before we’d entered the museum.
Meanwhile my other friend would describe the emotions he saw in faces in the paintings, and on people around us, commenting on their possible personalities. As you probably anticipated by now, what my friends saw — and did not see — depended on the lens through which they viewed the world. One friend is a shoe designer, visiting from Milan. The other is a trial lawyer who is accustomed to sizing up clients, judges, witnesses and potential jurors.
Sharing that museum experience through their eyes was a considerably richer, more multi-faceted experience. In fact, when we continued our lively conversation over coffee in the adjacent café, two pediatricians at a nearby table, in town for conference, joined in the conversation.
Discover Lessons for Not Living a Narrow Life
Forget passive entertainment and learning. Would you like to live a more adventuresome life where you:
• Have meaningful conversations with individuals from very different worlds than you that sometimes deepen the friendship?
• Stumble across new ideas that dovetail with the life you want to lead yet didn’t realize it until you experienced “scenes” you want to repeat?
• Attract serendipitous opportunities because you discovered new patterns, connections and/or shared interests?
• Co-create fresh and refreshing fun times with others?
Then consider inviting two or three acquaintances who live and or work in world very different than your to visit an exhibit, performance, festival or other live experience that is not a top interest for any of you yet sounds like it might be interesting and agree to sit down and dine afterwards and exchange ideas about what you saw, how you felt about it and what else those scenes reminded you of.