A friend forwarded me this video today from YouTube called Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla.
It’s an encounter had by two men in Uganda. They found themselves, literally, amidst a band of gorillas. It was out of the blue and, according to the video narration, not staged (it looks too real!). Click it and see. It’s pretty amazing.
I have to hand it to the subject of the video. He is a brave, brave man. I have no doubt he is a calm, collected man in real life! But even if he wasn’t before, then after being touched by a gorilla? Well, what fears could possibly remain for him?
The interactions are amazing. I won’t wax philosophic about the comparisons between animals and people…the subject of the video takes care of that.
But as we come into the holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas, and look ahead to a new year of new possibility, maybe there is a nice lesson in a video about these wild mountain gorillas from Uganda. We are under absolutely no obligation to like everyone in the world. We certainly don’t have to be liked by everyone in the world. We don’t “owe” people a smile or a conversation or any other contact (touch?). And, we certainly don’t have to put ourselves in positions where we are abused or belittled. Nobody deserves that, and no touch is worth it.
But 99% of the time, we aren’t meeting abusers or belittlers. We’re meeting people. Strangers. Groups. Troupes. Regular folks on the way of life. People who just wander into our little encampment. If we have a little trust, then who knows! It’s possible that we can come to new understandings and have a few new adventures.
In my travels around the world I’ve met some really nice people. They aren’t celebrities, famous authors, great sports heroes, or trend setters. Nope. They’re just owners of little shops, peddlers of burgers, teachers, parents, and others trying to make their way. I have wandered into their stores, restaurants, classrooms, homes, and other places–many times quite without invitation or expectation. And you know? Most of the time, I’m welcome. Most of the time, some pleasantry or another ensues, even if it is just a smile or a “thank you.”
As my feet travel from one place to the next, I am very aware that not everyone on this earth likes me. That’s a hard fact, but it is significantly softened by the truth that not everyone on this earth hates me. That’s comforting! Not everyone on this earth thinks I’m living the right way, but luckily I have some support for the life choices I’ve made.
But I figure it this way. The sum total of a person and a life doesn’t come about only by adding up the pleasings the people who have expectations of you. I know that can be an important ingredient sometimes, but no. Reliance on that alone is a dead-end sure to lead to all kinds of horrible.
The better measure of a life well lived is in how many times you make a connection with someone who has no expectations of you at all.
Those who expect from you will always find a reason to be let down. Those who don’t expect will find reasons to be pleasantly and unexpectedly surprised. For them, a smile will be enough. An extra dollar tip will be enough. Holding that door open will be enough. Who you are as you will be enough.
There is the jewel.
The men in this video where touched by wild mountain gorillas who had no expectations. They had an amazing encounter. Start paying a little more heed to the people in your own life who have no expectations of you. And there, you might find something amazing awaiting you. Therein will lie the true beauty of the gentle touches you never expected.