Life is amazing when you make a daily decision to be open, genuinely listen, and suspend your judgment of others. Recently, my family visited the amazing San Diego Zoo, and while were in the Rain Forest Aviary, another father heard me call my daughter’s name, which happens to be Madison. Turns out, he and his wife have a daughter named Madison, as well.
This serendipitous connection led to an indelibly memorable day. As our two families watched both young ladies build an instant and easy friendship—it was already clear that the girls were going to be inseparable—we decided to visit and get to know each other.
My wife and I learned that Boomer and his wife Bonnie were from a small town of less than 2,000 people outside of Billings, Montana, USA. He was in the mining business, and she was a nurse. For the next couple of hours, we all spent time walking around the San Diego Zoo, barely looking at the animals and keenly asking questions and learning about one another’s lives.
It’s amazing: As I talked to Boomer, I realized that we thought along the same lines when it came to the taboo topics of religion and politics. It didn’t matter that he was white and I was black. Nor did it matter that I was from the city, while he was from the country. We suspended whatever hang-ups we might have had because our daughters and my son were playing and talking as if they had known each other for years.
As we said our goodbyes, our daughters exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in contact. I got Boomer’s e-mail address and told him I’d keep in touch. Then I mentioned to him that I would like to take my son on a fly fishing trip soon. Without batting an eye, he said, “If you ever fly into Montana, let me know. I’ll pick you up from the airport, and you can stay at our house.”
I was not asking for this—I simply wanted to know the best places to go for fly fishing—and I was truly blown away that a complete stranger would extend this type of hospitality. What a priceless experience, to be the recipient of such generosity! Whether we ever see Boomer, Bonnie, and Madison again, one thing is for sure: I am convinced now more than ever before that respect, courtesy, and kindness has no color.
Each of us has the ability to connect with others if we really want to. Some people stay in their bubble because it’s safe, comfortable, and familiar. But when we choose to connect with someone who doesn’t look like us or can’t do anything for us, this is when we truly learn that we are all human beings seeking to be respected, valued, and appreciated.
I just felt compelled to share this with you, O Brilliant One.