As a people, how do we know whom we understand and whom we do not understand? For how long is someone a stranger before they become an acquaintance, friend, colleague, manager, peer, or even a loved one? Is time the key to understanding another being? Perhaps it’s much more than that. We may encounter someone every day for a lifetime, and still feel that he or she is a stranger. When we feel detached from another person, in terms of emotions, physical contact or geographical location, in one way or another, we may see that person as a stranger longer than time could tell.
Coming to Tel Aviv, the culture is so widespread between a sweet compassionate softness and a direct aggression. At times, it feels that those who are more direct and aggressive in nature are less of strangers than those who are covering up their true selves with kind gestures. However, it is the Israeli middle ground between straightforward and caring that enables the deepest level of connection in the shortest amount of time. There are some people I have had the blessing to meet here that have shown me there is no need to have all the time in the world to understand someone on a sincere level.
For instance, at work in Tel Aviv, my direct manager is a wonderful mixture of passion for work and selflessness for driving the success of others, personally and professionally. She sees no one person through one lens, and removes the boundaries that naturally come with a relationship built under the foundation of a contract. She sees each person she works with not just on a professional level, but also on a personal level. She cares about the many aspects of life, beyond just the working relation her colleagues have with her.
She takes a little bit of time here and there to truly get to know me, and does her absolute best to help drive me in the direction I aim to go. She opens herself up, and lets me get to know her very well. She shares her fears, anxieties, dreams and ambitions. She shares her personal goals and her professional goals. She lets me help her outside of work, in the direction she is working on as well. It has been a spring of wisdom to work with her, purely because she has continued to enlighten me by encouraging me to question why we place boundaries within the many relationships of life.
Life is too short to see people in just one way. Sure, some relationships naturally built, while others are built through a verbal agreement, and others are built upon a signed contract. That does not mean that people are to be seen as robots or machines of labor and human capital. Rather, they are meant to beautiful connections that share the wonderful curiosities of life. We are here together, not to compete or aim for one goal altogether. We all have diverse paths, where no one person has shared the exact same route and no one will share the precise future route. Let us learn about the paths others have taken, and develop our own futures while also helping others on their life paths.
Through my experience working with my manager and understanding the Israeli way of life, it has become evident that there are two ways to live life. In the first, we could choose to see everyone we first meet as strangers. In the second, we could choose to take the extra time and effort to understand any person we meet, so as to pave a lifetime with minimal strangers. Which path are you going to choose?