When you meet me for the first time, please don’t ask me, “Where are you from?” Don’t ask me, “What do you do for a living?” Or tell me, “Oh, I thought you must be from the UK because you sound soooo English!” Why do you care about my accent or which country I was born in? It is not my accent that defines me nor where I was born that I belong.
If you are truly interested in who I am, then ask me what I believe in. Be curious about my passions. Find out what makes me feel happy and joyful. And yes, what makes my heart bleed too!
I don’t care what your job is, how much money you make or where you live. I care if you feel connected to what you see around you, whatever that is. A rising block of concrete, metal pipes and jazzy lights or a swaying bamboo grove. It doesn’t matter. But what do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? That does!
I don’t care about your politics or what football team you support. What religion you practise or god you bow down to. I don’t care what rituals you follow, what law you feel tied to, who you love or how you choose to spend your time. I care if you are kind to your brothers and sisters, the ones you know and the ones you do not. I care if you honour every single speck of life on this planet for its place and its purpose. I care if you are curious to learn and evolve as a part of the environment around you, not because you think you are above it. And I care if you recognise this wondrous gift called life.
So when we first meet, please don’t ask me where I am from. Don’t assume that you know. Instead, let’s both take a moment, step back and observe. Silence speaks volumes. It allows us to hear. In fact, the first time you meet me, don’t ask me anything at all.