People We Touch

We traverse through life inside our heads. Everything we experience is a creation of our minds. As we interact with other people in the “outside world,” we often think that we understand other people, but we will never fully understand them. They have their own thoughts, desires, dreams, and consciousness. We will never be able to fully understand that person because we are not that person.

For many, the thought of fully understanding people never arises. We live inside our heads, scrutinizing every one of our actions, thinking about how our actions affect other people and forgetting to think about how other people view us. Or specifically, the positive aspects of us: it's not uncommon to think about how someone now views us negatively after an action we did. We, in turn, forget how much we impact them, but we know how much they impact us. This is in part, as Alain de Botton says, due to the fact that we know other people through what they tell us, but we know ourselves from the inside. In other words, we do not know how other people are perceiving us and being affected by us unless they tell us, but we are fully aware of how we feel toward feel toward another person.

Thus, many of us go through life interacting with other people not realizing how much we mean to them. The worst part is that even if they were to tell us, how would we be able to truly believe them? There's an element of trust that's essential: we must believe them without having any way to verify. We can have all the evidence in the world that someone loves us - they shower us with gifts, make love to us, and sprinkle kind words of affection - but we can never truly verify that they actually do because we are not them. Because of this, we shift back and forth between the feelings of doubt and love, requiring constant reassurance that they mean what they say. It's part of why we need constant interactions in order to stay in love, why we need to still have dates when we are married, and why lovers fall out of love. If there isn't an unbreakable trust (and maybe rightly so as we have good reasons to be suspicious of another's words), then there needs to be something constantly repairing that trust.

There's a veil that separates us from each other, but at the end of the day it's a veil. We can make the veil more visible to others, allowing others to peer through its many tiny openings and conjure up an image of ourselves. We can also make the veil less visible, shielding ourselves from pesky onlookers, providing nothing to glance at. We can also place something behind the veil, showing an image to others that isn't necessarily true to ourselves.

Only through communication can we express to others what we really mean or don't mean. I'd argue that only through communicating your “true self” can real connection happen; otherwise, other people aren't really connecting with you. This becomes hard when you don't really know your true self.

It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being. - John Joseph Powell