Fool's Gold

Truth - People are never who we imagine them to be; they are so much more. All our predictions of how each and every person will turn out are nothing more than romanticized fantasies There's no way to know what the each person holds inside them or how things will go until you get to know them. Why then do we spend so much making things up instead of being in the here and now with them? Why do we settle for cheap imitations when we can have the real thing? Why take the fool's gold when you can have genuine gold?
"We are treasure chests with more jewels inside than we can imagine.”
Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

The great outdoors have never been something that I have been too fond of but there have been times where I've truly enjoyed it. One of those times was my in my childhood when I'd want to explore a forest or near a streaming creek. I'd get down in the mud and make little trenches for the water to flow in. I could spend hours redirecting the flow of things and washing out the rocks and pebbles I would find. I would come across glints of what I always was assumed was gold. I would get so excited. I felt like Knuckles from the Sonic series as a treasure hunter. I would dig and dig only to be disappointed each time to realize the sparkles were nothing more than iron pyrite, better known by it's colloquial name of fool's gold. No matter how many times I can across it, I would want to bring it up as I was drawn to it's glistening allure. It's looks were superficial though, nothing more than a worthless material and a waste of time. I thoroughly enjoyed my excavation attempts but my time could have been better spent.

Isn't it funny how much our pasts tell about our futures. For much of my life, I have found myself spending so much time on the same task. I take people at face value. I trust easily. I believe in their inherent goodness. Don't get me wrong, it's not always a negative thing. In fact, it's quite the opposite in some situations. I'm often the one to bridge gaps, make connections, and form relationships quickly. I find it easy to engage others and to make lasting impressions. I enjoy dialoguing across difference and rarely find myself apprehensive in communicating with people. At the same time I do spend an unreasonable amount of time being drawn to the glitter, glisten, and glint of people's exteriors. I imagine people to be idealized version of themselves and do not leave the proper room for them to unbury themselves. Their external facades weather away and I am often unprepared for the truth that lies beneath. People's inner treasures take some digging to get to and sometimes I get caught up in the frivolous things they rattle off as opposed to getting past the crystalline exterior to the precious people inside. Fool's good is no substitute for real substance.

This past week has been one of the most eventful in so many ways. It was Homecoming week and that meant it was all hands on deck as my office brought all the spirit, pep, and pride we had to offer. From capturing candid moments at soaking wet, down and dirty, flag football game clash of the classes to slinging sweatshirts like a pro; the week was a random one. I was essentially a handler for the Homecoming Court and a social media guru for our Homecoming page. I did what I do best and took full advantage of my opportunities to shine. Above, beyond, and always in style were how I tackled getting people engaged, fired all the way up, and sincerely excited for their alma mater. Emails, miniature adventures, and figuring things out as they came were part of my daily search for structure in all the organized chaos. Saturday came and with it was me driving a convertible in a parade - it was safe to say I was out of my element. I was definitely little off and was unreasonably nervous so I went home to nap and gather my wits about me, especially after enduring the harsh critique from the selatious campus paper directly coming after the endeavor I had spent literal months orchestrating. I recharged and came back in full force to show up for my students effectively bringing the party to the dance they organized, and providing that upbeat spirit I've been known for at the clean up session. I had done it, I had survived Homecoming.
The most memorable parts though were being able to find some quiet moments to scratch the surface, chip away at the glossy exteriors, and sneak a peek at some people's inner selves. A few stand out to me when I was able to trade funny life stories with some of the students as they worked on their Homecoming float. Storytelling is truly a gift, one I know I have been graced with, but others really have a knack for it too. It always makes me smile for how people orate their own tales. I spent some quality time getting to know some of my classmates in our carpool escapades. Slowly but surely, I'm figuring out who they really are beyond our common interest of intended career. And of course, there was the much needed quality time with my supervisor. From our little walk to the football field as he playful antagonized passerbys, to us popping bouquets of balloons at 1AM in an empty university center laughing uncontrollably, and the subtle moments in between. We took a little roadtrip to pick up some awards and having him drive while I navigated as we both talked about our families, understandings of personal beliefs, and college nostalgia made the perfect cornerstones to a new-age sitcom. With him there are these calm moments where we just look at each other and know that whatever is going to come our way, we're going to tackle it full on, and be more than okay. Getting to know him has hands down been the best part of this treasure hunt. That one has a heart of gold.

People are more than what we see of them, in fact, we barely get to see people as they are. The special times where we get to be candid with one another have to be cherished. We must do all we can to create spaces, places, and times for people to wash off the shiny well-polished finishes and reveal the uneven patches, bumps, scratches, and dents that make us who we are. Those are the things we can our hands over, the stories we really want to hear, the moments that have shaped who people are and how they show up in the world. Fool's gold has it's place but nothing beats the invaluable jewel that each and every person holds inside them. X


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