I’m prone to much thinking and pondering over things. I often look at ordinary objects and events to find some kind of meaning in my life. A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I were at a store and she was surprised that I bought an artichoke. She knew that I never ate artichokes. Well, I had no intention of eating one but I just wanted to examine it. I was fascinated with the layers of leaves that must be shed off in order to arrive at the edible part of this vegetable – the heart. I often look at people I encounter like artichokes. People have different layers that must be shed before arriving at their heart or their character. What we see on the outside may not always be what is on the inside.
There are a few exceptions, of course. Some are covered with few transparent layers. They are so easy to figure out because what they project is exactly who they are. They often love to talk about themselves, withholding nothing. One time, I just moved into this neighborhood and the lady next door started talking about herself. In less than 15 minutes I already knew the juicy details of her personal life. As an added bonus, I already knew what was going on with my neighbors. Three letters describe these people – TMI. Be careful not to reveal too much information with them, they will talk about you.
Most people we encounter, however, are not as easy as the transparent ones. They need to be peeled off layer by layer in order to get to know them. As you spend more time with them, their personality will unravel. Some will turn out to better than what is seen and some will be worst than ever imagined. The first encounters are not enough to arrive at the core of a person. As more conversations follow, as challenging moments emerge, and as secrets are revealed, the layers start unraveling until you see the heart of this person. Then, you judge for yourself whether you will really trust this person to become a friend, or you will just be civil and nice to keep the peace , or stay completely away from them.
There are still others whose hearts are buried in so many untouchable layers. Deep in their consciousness they want to be understood yet they closely guard their inner self for reasons only known to them. They may have thick layers to hide their vulnerability or they just want to keep things private. Could it be that they know that allowing others to shed their layers, exposes their character to judgment or acceptance? For whatever reasons, these are the ones that fascinate me the most. I’d like to discover the heart of these persons so I can view their perspective and hopefully understand them. However, I realize what a difficult endeavor it really is, just like the removal of the layers of artichokes. I noticed that as I peeled more and more layers of the artichoke’s leaves, their thorns became more painful that I almost gave up my quest to arrive at the heart. That is exactly the same as conversing with complex personalities. The more you dig deeper with them, the more thorns and pain felt for their predicament. Nevertheless, after all the painful removal of the layers of invincibility lies the heart that is in need of compassion and understanding.