Virtual reality is all the rage, and an interesting phenomenon for sure, but reality itself is weird enough for me. Last week’s business trip provided plenty of proof.
For instance, while watching baseball in a New York City hotel I saw a commercial hawking Chia Clinton and Chia Trump for twenty bucks a pop (Trump is winning that race 79% to 21% at present). This was immediately followed by a commercial promoting an online dating service just for overweight people. I’d say you can’t make this stuff up, but the point is that people do. A few days earlier, I visited the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, which is crazy enough, but also had the chance to hold Brett Favre’s Hall of Fame ring before it was presented to him at Lambeau Field yesterday. Who needs virtual reality?
But the best part of the crazy business trip was connecting with Jon Wood, an old college roommate, who seems a little unreal in the one-of-a-kind sense but appears to have us all beat on what it actually means to be real.
Jon never meets a stranger. No, you have no idea, Jon never meets a stranger. He talks to anyone. And everyone. I’m sorry, but I can tell that you don’t get it. He talks to EV-ER-Y-ONE. No exceptions. In the less than twenty-four hours I spent with Jon last week, I met multiple members of a country club, the entire staff at Diamond Deli, work colleagues at Bridgestone Americas, his elderly barber (no haircut, just stopped in to say hello), a friend that staffs a parking lot in downtown Cleveland, the bartender where we stopped for dinner, and every staff member at a Cleveland Cavaliers preseason game (who got a fist bump from Jon whether they wanted it or not). Half of the people met Jon for the first time, while the other half met him with a massive smile as if he was their very best friend. I know Jon, so none of this surprised me, but each time I am fascinated by his approach to this precious life we all get a chance to play.
Jon is a successful attorney with a wonderful family and much to admire from any vantage point, but what I admire the most is that to Jon every human being he encounters is someone with boundless dignity and worth getting to know regardless of appearance, age, income, race, education, or any other category that normal folks use to decide whether someone is worthy of interaction.
Who knows, I might end up the biggest fan of virtual reality, but as I sit here today and see pictures of people wearing goofy googles the size of car batteries reaching out for something that isn’t there, I vote for Jon’s approach of experiencing reality by actually seeing everyone he meets with eyes (and heart) wide open.