Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
I met a remarkable young man on my tour last month. Andrew is a great audience member, a thoughtful human being, and a bright spirit. He’s a student at Hastings College, my beloved alma mater, and I asked him to share a “nice thing” story. I hope you’ll enjoy his tale.
I left the Rhetoric Society of America 2016 conference Saturday evening with an immense intellectual calm. After meeting some rhetoric rock stars, I was heading back to corn fields and reveling in all the miraculous conversation I had experienced with the foremost minds in the world.
Anthony pulled up in his Hyundai Sonata. I was using Uber for the first time and wasn’t sure what to expect.
As we drove to the airport, Anthony asked me why I was in the deep South. I explained the research I had done analyzing a religious art exhibit and explained a significant conclusion I had reached – religious tolerance as we know it is a myth. Somewhat taken aback, my bold claim that I had taken a year to develop, hone and support became a launching point. Years of research about how the art exhibit was a metaphor for this ultimate conclusion was shared with looks between a car rearview mirror.
With exuberant eyes, Anthony launched into his experience. Attending religious events and peacefully coexisting with Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists alike. He asked me what I thought the solution was. Wondering, while it is easy to point out the problem, how do we move forward from here.
Attempting to match the passion beaming through his sunglasses I explained our innate human desire to categorize. The gut reaction we all have to put things into boxes we understand. It was through this rearview mirror that so much changed. So much knowledge…so much heart. Exchanged in the confines of a Hyundai Sonata. Knowledge so touching and raw.
All it took was 11.49 miles. 11.49 miles to explain my research. 11.49 miles to discover the highlight of the conference wasn’t meeting esteemed professors or connecting with old friends. It was meeting a human that understood what it meant to be profoundly present.
As he got my suitcase from the back and shook my hand, Anthony left me with this –
“You’ll change the world if you believe you can.”