You will have to forgive me up front as my memory has forsaken me regarding the context surrounding the conversation I’m about to tell you about. I was at school one day and I was talking to a friend of mine. I even forget what we were actually talking about but she said something that triggered me to begin quoting the lyrics to the song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something. It’s a tendency I have since music is so deeply ingrained in my brain. But that’s not the point.
My friend looked at me like I had made some unpardonable offense and said, “I can’t believe you mentioned that song. I’m going to have that song stuck in my head all day now. Thanks.” I thought this an odd response because, being so very egocentric, I thought everyone loved the little nugget of joy that was the one-hit wonder, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” It brought great joy to me to even quote the chorus to my friend but she was having none of it. I asked her why she had such an issue with the song and she said something to the effect of, “The song is about a relationship based off them having one thing in common. It’s ridiculous!”
Of course, I defended the song because I love a lot of those one-hit wonders from the mid to late 90’s. If you’re not familiar with the song, first of all, shame on you. Go to YouTube and look up the song and give it a listen. The premise of the song is a conversation between a couple that is somehow romantically involved but their relationship is falling apart because they have nothing in common. The whole purpose of the song is the argument proposed in the chorus as a reason to keep the relationship going:
And I said, “What about ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’?”
She said, “I think I remember the film, yes
and as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it.”
And I said, “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got.”
I’ve been feeling kind of down lately, a little disconnected. This feeling is only intensified by more frequent bouts of depression lately and the environment I am exposed to three days a week at school where it’s implicit in the air that you breathe that it’s really not OK to not be OK. But that’s not the point. What I’ve really been feeling is that I have nothing in common with the people in that institution, save a few, who have been really awesome and for those I’m extremely thankful. It’s hard to even reach out to people you don’t know because everyone seems pretty stand-offish. That may be my own personal hang-ups manifesting themselves but, regardless, I don’t really connect with anyone there.
Something I’ve learned just recently is sometimes you have to know how to reach out to people or sometimes you’ve just got to reach regardless of the circumstances and hope for a favorable outcome. So, I’ve made it a point to reach out when I can, ask questions when possible and tell the truth always. Since then I’ve found people who dig the music I do and struggle with the same issues that I do. Honesty has proven to be a very worthwhile tool in finding people with whom I share certain interesting commonalities that I wouldn’t have know about if I hadn’t just been myself and been honest.
Let me tell you what I’m talking about.
I had a conversation with someone from school after I had stumbled upon her blog one night. Her most recent post voiced a lot of the concerns and issues that I had been wrestling with the last few weeks. As the conversation started moving she asked me how I was doing. That doesn’t seem like asking that question would be a big deal and, for the vast majority of the people you may encounter on the face of this earth it probably isn’t.
But, would you believe that I had recently vowed to tell the truth when people ask me that question?
So, my answer to that question was not a simple “I’m OK” or some other sort of offhand remark that doesn’t really answer the question. Instead I told her that I had, in truth, been suffering from a terrible depression for almost a week. This is almost a litmus test for authenticity anymore because most people run away when they get a response like the one I gave. But, instead, that was the common ground where we met. It was a good conversation and it gave us both the permission to be real.
How would it feel to have to be real?
If we are real I think we more quickly find that common ground where real, authentic friendships and communities can be created and continue to grow and change. But it starts with us as individuals. We must be willing to admit that a single point of common ground. This is something that I’ve thought about off and on for a long time. Of course, one can always refer to the significance of Imago Dei which is true. But I am somewhat dense sometimes and I forget that fact which is really easy to do when you see people all the time. It’s easy to get desensitized to that fact. But then I recall the words of the Psalmist who praises YHWH because as his creation he is, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). That is to say we have been constructed with the greatest amount of care and precision and in ways inconceivable to our finite minds. YHWH, the creator of all things assembled us all in so finite a detail and yet we are so very different.
That is common ground. That is, I think, a good place to start.
This, in kind of a roundabout way, is why I think that I can, with great confidence, tell my friend she’s wrong that the idea of basing a relationship off of having one thing in common is not absurd. I applaud the guts of the guy in the song only because he has the courage to point out that there is this one, seemingly insignificant, common interest in a movie. We, as people, do this all the time, though. How do we make friends? It starts with the realization that two people share at least one thing in common. Then a conversation starts which leads to more conversations until you have a relationship there. And, what’s more, I think Jesus does this too. Depending on circumstances, people meet Jesus at different common grounds and he draws them in from there. He started at the very basic and became human. He met us there. The rest you can read in the Gospels and see how you relate to Jesus.
I guess that really begs the question for me is this: how hard are you trying to seek common ground with the people around you, not just as an evangelistic tool because it certainly can be used for that, but just with people in general? I’m certainly not the greatest at this but I’m starting to be really intentional about that. I think you’ll find that a willingness to be authentic is scary because opening up like that is dangerous, makes you a walking target. Then again, what’s more dangerous than not being who you were created to be?
Are you willing to say, “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got.”?
I think we’ll all find common ground is more common than we expect