Strangers Like Me.
This world is diverse.
I remember, as a young child, asking my Mom very specific questions about life outside of America. Growing up, I had never traveled or really seen outside of our state, and the thought of other people living like us, in far away lands, was unreal. Sure, I saw different people and places in my cartoons, but to really imagine a boy, just like me, on the other side of the world, was beyond my grasp of comprehension.
I since have had great opportunities to travel, and experience first hand, the lives that are lived outside of my homeland. I've seen the other children playing, just as I had, with different customs, yet in all too familiar ways. I've seen them cook and eat, differently yet the same. I've seen them worship, differently yet the same. I've seen their homes, and family units, and transportation, and supermarkets, different yet the same.
Last week, I visited the New York Botanical Gardens. In the conservatory on the grounds of the garden, they house plants from all over the world. They split them by geography and climate, and it makes for a great spectacle of the familiar and exotic. Plants from the desert, the rainforest, Africa, and Mexico. All common as plants, yet all are different and strange in their own way. Outlandishly large or oddly shaped plants made for second glances, for sure. I was in awe of the plants that I had never even seen or heard of, but that I found the most interest in.
Walking through this large conservatory, appreciating the care of the facilities in harboring and caring for all of these plants, I began to think about life outside of the large building. I thought about not plants, but the human race. I thought about the complexity that is homo sapiens. Just like the plants, we come from all over the world. Some are outlandishly large or oddly shaped. Some look more familiar while others exotic. We come from deserts and rainforests, Africa and Mexico. And some people groups, we've never even seen.
This plant conservatory had been set up so that residents and visitors of New York could both see and appreciate the beauty of the array of foliage. They took the time and effort to care for each one, each in a different way to foster a nourishing climate for that plant to grow and thrive. They understood the importance of individuality among the plants. They understood that although they are all plants, they each need special attention and environments to grow and develop into their fullest potential.
Sometimes, I wish the world in general was like this conservatory. That we were amazed and amorous of the beauty in our differences. That we took time to understand each other and care for each other, despite our differences. That we found those differences beautiful and complex, and wanted to know more about them, instead of turn away from them. That diversity was beauty, and comparing for personal gain or loss no longer existed.
Life as a conservatory sounds quite splendid.