Sometimes when there is a lull in a conversation and I am bored sitting for hours at a Chinese banquet of endless courses, I like to ask the person sitting next to me: “What animal are you?”. I get a repertoire of stock responses : Huh?? *#* What do you mean? Animals as in Noah’s ark? Animals in the zoo? Two legged kind? I have come to expect these responses even before the person opens his mouth so recently I got a laugh when I asked a man the same question at a Chinese New Year dinner. He replied: “Where? In bed?”. And without missing a beat (I am, after all, a good drummer), I told him: lambs are gentle in bed and goats are frisky. Lambs just want to be cuddled and they stay still and docile. Goats want to climb up the ceiling and gambol and frolic amongst the pillows and stuffed toys. As for Rams – you can use your own imagination!
I must admit I was relieved when the oranges came to wish us gold and good fortune. And not bananas!
There is mystery in this universe. Strangers know your innermost needs. People get connected accidentally, love warms our heart at the sight of an ex-husband (or ex-wife) after years of fighting and resentment, children bring gifts without being reminded that it is one’s birthday and so it goes. This mystery is related to one’s chi and our interconnectedness with an unseen and underlying cosmic matrix that binds all of us through time and space, through several lives and deaths. This is also the basis of the Chinese art and science of siting, commonly known as Feng Shui (literally translated as Wind Water in Mandarin). Depending on where we are sited as each lunar year comes by, our lives are affected accordingly and this is just one aspect of Feng Shui.
Way back in the early seventies, there was much talk about diversity – gender, race, ethnicity, vertically challenged and horizontally challenged people for that matter. Today the list grows longer – smokers and non smokers, well mannered mobile phone users and yahoos who leave their mobile phones on in cinemas and in my workshops! So people are different, end of story! Or is it the beginning really?
I believe that managing differences requires a certain attitude. That is the challenge. What is this attitude? I guess it is an open and trusting one. Being open to the universe and trusting that whatever the weather will be, the outcome will be the same – gratitude and joy. To be grateful for yet another day whatever the weather – to be able to do this results in joy, a tingling in the body, a sizzling of the soul.
Managing the differences diversities in body shapes is another awesome challenge if you travel in planes as much as I do. The chairs are all the same but the bodies in them are so different. I have sat next to bodies that fill out the whole chair and half of mine. I have sat next to bodies that smell of cigarettes or cigars. And beer. I have sat next to tiny bodies that are being suckled at their mothers’ breasts. In between mouthfuls of milk, these little bodies, somehow manage to emit screams that are louder than mine. In short, I have known different bodies in my travels. And they are trials and tribulations sent to grow me, especially from Melbourne to LA.
Managing differences in the bedroom or boardroom is another challenge. It requires the same attitude in order for you to make a difference. An open attitude of trust is based on information and knowledge of differences – the whys and wherefores of the other person’s difference. However, equally importantly, you need to know the why’s and wherefore’s of how you are different from the other person. In a global world, every situation is filled with “foreigners”. They are different in ethnic background, age, gender, etc. so how do we manage the differences and here are some tips:
*Manage your own Self – by knowing yourself, both the conscious and unconscious bits of you.
*Manage the other person’s differences – first tackle the obvious difference, ie their accent, their rate of speaking and their way of listening. Then you manage their not-so-obvious differences, that is, their psyche and their unconscious culture.
Finally, I urge you not to walk away from the challenge of someone who is totally different from you. Or a situation that is totally different from what you are used to. Let me finish with a little story. Many men and women tell me that they are looking for a soul mate, someone to share a life with – they walk around looking in supermarkets, in parking lots, dance halls, parties, pubs, and the Internet. They all have a list of criteria for whom they are looking for and when I examine these criteria, they are often a reflection of their own – same attitude about money, time, pleasures. In short, the other body must match their own. Remember that opposites do attract and when the dance is over, you need diversity to be creative.