I've been mostly reflecting on my recent trip for the last day and kind of settling back in slowly. It's rather interesting how things seem to play out I suppose. I generally try to keep my expectations and assumptions to a minimum whenever I do new or different things now. This trip was really no different. I had met most of my companions earlier this year in Florida, but we were kind of in my backyard this time and I suppose it was a little different. So what did I take away from this experience?
Well, to understand that, I suppose that I should probably explain that we were hanging out in New Orleans or 'NOLA' as we tend to refer to it and this weekend happened to be 'Gay Mardi Gras.' We weren't really going there for the festivities, but I found them pretty interesting nonetheless. I suppose the general plan was to just hang out and unplug a bit for a few days as most of us spend a pretty extreme amount of time working online. Well unplug we did and new experiences bring new perspective and lessons of their own.
I consider myself to be fairly open minded and laid back for the most part, but one thing about having friends come to a city that I suggested meant that I in some ways felt responsible for them. This was different than going to Florida, but I suppose it puts things into perspective of trying to coordinate events. We got to explore some of the local scenery and there were different tastes and lifestyles to account for, which I think went fairly well for the most part. Hanging out with @choogirl certainly helped me to gain some perspective on the vegan front.
There was some late night exploration of the French Quarter, which is sort of the main party and event area of the city. Probably one of my most insightful and memorable experiences from the trip came from observing a protest line between gay rights activists and religious individuals trying to guilt and shame them about their lifestyle. It was such a visceral and stark contrast watching both sides scream and yelling at each other and brimming on the edge of all out violence. It made me very aware of something that I've often considered, which I suppose brings us to the title of the post.
What's the difference? When I ask that, I mean it literally. What is the actual difference between any of us? Not just the gay and anti-gay bickering that was going on, but people in general. I started considering the people that I was staying with and trying to start from the human side of the equation, which is generally where I try to start from, and it leads me to one conclusion. The only difference between any of us are the ways in which we don't understand each other. That lack of understanding seems to be the downfall of respect of compassion.
I was in a group of people that are all fairly different in their own preferences and lifestyle choices, but overall we all manage to find some kind of level of respect and connection to each other. It really helped to reinforce a thought I've had along this journey of self exploration that I've undertaken over the last year and a half or so, which is that I feel it's best to relate to others from some kind of place of common ground. We are all just humans and we are all here doing the best that we can. None of us are any better or worse than the others, we're all just different in our own ways. We're all the same in other ways though, and the ability to see that is fundamental to finding peace and respecting each other. There's beauty in the contrast and diversity. Namaste.