If you look close enough

Teens from church visit a senior member's home and take a closer look at her life. Fairfield, CA, August 2003.

Teens from church visit a senior member’s home and take a closer look at her life.
Fairfield, California, August 2003.

“Even the most ordinary life is a mystery if you look close enough.” Kennedy Fraser

It seems to me one of the saddest aspects of modern culture that people get a lot of their reality from television shows.  Admittedly I know very little about it since I’ve shunned television for over 25 years now, but the term “reality TV” seems an oxymoron.  How could anything on television be reality?  Even the so-called news is carefully packaged, edited and slanted to someone else’s specifications.

If reality TV is popular, it’s probably because people are basically fascinating to begin with.  I realize I might get an argument here, but I honestly believe it.  I have never ceased to be amazed at the complexity of each and every life I’ve ever been acquainted with, and the fact that there are millions and billions of them only increases my awe that each life is very different from every other.  If people seem all alike and boring to you, it may be that you’re not looking closely enough.

I guess the blogosphere is the online version of reality TV.  But at least here, we can talk back and forth, and get to know each other.  Some of you I have met in person, some I have known for years, and some I have never met, but feel as if I have; as if we could go to lunch and talk as old friends do, with no awkward silence or pretension.  I love that.  I love that I have come to know a little bit about so many people all over the world, people who were totally unknown to me before, whose existence was hidden to me by the limitations of geographical distance and half-imaginary borders of culture, nationality or age differences.  More than ever, we are surrounded by rich opportunities for friendship, understanding, and joy.

Not everyone is comfortable interacting online, and that’s OK.  But all of us, no matter our preferences and habits, daily come into contact with lots of people whose lives touch ours in some direct or indirect way.   I’ve found that life is much more interesting when I stop to take a closer look at the people in my life.  It’s a lot harder to stay depressingly immersed in the relatively small world of my own challenges and troubles; a lot easier to avoid despair when I realize that we all struggle at times, and have much to offer each other.

Who are the celebrities of your personal world?  Who is in the supporting cast?  If your life was a reality TV show, who would be the characters we’d come back to see again and again?  There is mystery in the ordinary; can you unravel it?  Stay tuned!


  1. Part of the mystery lies in detecting masks.

    • Yes, and as we discussed in a recent post, masks do serve a purpose, up to a point. As long as they are used to protect rather than deceive, they can be appropriate, but it’s important to know when to take them off.

  2. MaryAnn

    How sweet to shower Sister Margaret with love & attention! You have been involved with appreciating Senior Saints for years. Drew looks great. I recognize Erin Martinez beside him, but not the others. I am learning to “look closely”, ask questions & listen carefully; especially to my grown sons.
    The current celebrities in my life are children: some at the Boys & Girls Club, who are blossoming under the ray of attention; some at our Bible study small group. After worship this past Sunday, we went to lunch with a group. Some of whom I did not know. I was seated next to a 5yr. boy. We had a great conversation going when he asked, “Do you know Jesus?” What a blessing! Our conversation, of course, continued to grow & build joyfully.
    The supporting cast is numerous: my loving Christian friends who have been there through thick & thin, of which you hold a firm “assignment”.
    I think the children are the ones to see again & again. What a great view of life, Julia!!!

    • Thanks Mary Ann! You deserve the “best supporting cast member” award in many, many lives! I have some photos with YOU in them that were taken that same night – the kids split into groups and visited different homes. It was so much fun! You, Matt and the Lee kids went to the Sinclairs that night. Many happy memories from California!

      • MaryAnn

        That is a very special memory for me. I felt so privileged to be trusted w/ my Matthew! He was the star of the evening. You & I had a great time w/ the church youth group in CA.

        • Yes we did! But then, I can’t think of any time when we didn’t have a great time together!

  3. It’s all in the presentation. I love to tell stories on myself and people find me amusing (at times) because of it. But the stories are ordinary, every day events that could happen to anyone. So, I completely agree that each of us is fascinating. The more difficult task is finding the intriguing aspects in someone else’s life. That is truly a gift.

    • Yes, and as Eric pointed out, sometimes finding those things are difficult when people are afraid to show themselves to others. I think when you “tell on yourself” as you described, it can help other people feel more comfortable sharing their own eccentricities or just everyday, common experiences that take on a fresh twist with each individual. I think one thing that many kids have is that innate curiosity that fuels their endless questions. Some people get impatient with children who ask lots of questions, but I try not to, because I too was a “nosey” kid who wanted to know so much about so many people and things. Life need never be boring if we can stay interested in other people.

  4. Sheila

    Julia, I must say Bill is my”leading man” as I’m sure Jeff is yours! Ashley and Stephanie have nicknamed me “School- girl” when I’m gushy about their dad.They should have been in the car with us traveling here to the meeting. Can GPS be grounds for divorce? Haha! We are having a really good time. I’m so glad that I can stay in touch! Does Matt like Shrek? He was at our cocktail party!

    • Sheila, Jeff is definitely my leading man, although sometimes we are more like “On Golden Pond” or “The Way We Were” than more conventional romances! It is VERY refreshing to meet long-married couples who are still crazy about each other. Jeff and I are, but it’s always so obvious even to us :-). GPS ground for divorce? Maybe – as anything related to “directions” could be (as in NO I’M NOT STOPPING TO ASK DIRECTIONS! I noticed when we got our GPS, Jeff wanted to switch the voice right away from the female voice to the male voice, which I thought was interesting. He had a hard enough time trusting it when it was a male voice! 🙂 So glad you are having fun!!!

  5. merry

    Julia, glad I’m not the only one who don’t care for T.V.’s “reality shows”.~/
    My family, friends, and neighbors…the world out side my door, much more interesting.
    The internet opens doors to people I would not have known. T.V is one sided…

    • Merry, that’s it in a nutshell; it’s one-sided and I really believe that tends to make us less able to carry on daily conversations. The TV can be turned off at will, even mid-sentence, and nobody has to really listen to it. Real live people are not like that. We have to be willing to give them our attention, sometimes even when we don’t particularly want to. But the payoff is that they too will be there for us when we need them, unlike a TV set. Thanks for being here in “virtual” real life!

  6. Well invited post. Interesting as well as facts stated.
    Pattern of Life always remains hidden. it is a mystery forever …neither it explicates.

    • The good part is that it’s always interesting! Thanks for your comments and visits here.

  7. Carlyle

    When relating some of my more unusual life experiences, I like to finish with a quote from Ashleigh Brilliant. “Some of the things that will live longest in my memory never actually happened.”

    • That’s probably more true than we realize! Even the same events are remembered differently by different people, and the stories don’t always contradict each other, but they feature different details. I think research has demonstrated that we do tend to embellish things we remember, even if we don’t intend to. That’s why cameras and journals are helpful. What amazes me when I go over old photos and diaries, is how much is forgotten over the years, stored somewhere way back on our mental “hard drive,” that will come back to us with the help of a written or visual reminder. Sometimes in antique stores I’ll see a dish or a toy that has a jarring familiarity, and then I will have a rush of memories around it because one of us had one exactly like it 50 years ago or more.


  1. I sit and watch | Defeat Despair

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