The “human experience” looks like laughter, tastes like chocolate, feels like warm hugs, smells like overpowering cologne, and sounds like the title of a Ken Burns documentary. (A quick Google search revealed that the last of these accusations was not too far off; it is a documentary but directed by Charles Kinnane). But while we may have our theories about what the experience is like, it’s difficult to define what it is because there is no singular definition just as there is no singular “human experience.”
Every day we cross paths with dozens of human experiences mostly in the smallest of ways. Regardless of whether we find common ground with them or not, each and every one of them contributes to the great Venn diagram in the sky that makes up our story, our collective human experience. It is a Venn diagram more tightly interlinked and interwoven than seen in any statistics class, more colorful and vibrant than seen in any art museum. And as we rush about our busy lives and push past one another on the streets and honk our car horns in traffic, those little interlinkages go unnoticed and unacknowledged. Because as it so happens, the greatest tragedy of the human experience is that sometimes we walk past a potential best friend with whom we have all the common ground in the world with, and we don’t even realize it.
We march on; 7.125 billion strong and 7.125 billion blind. The beauty of life is that even those numbers don’t stop us – as difficult as it may be to find and revel in common ground given the rush of our lives, we still share the little moments together on occasion and revel in common soil. It may be a stranger in passing recognizing the logo on your t-shirt and cheering on your shared fandom, or you noticing a favorite song being played on the campus piano and approaching the player for a quick thumbs-up. It may be that classmate you recognize in a coffee shop and smile at in acknowledgement, even though you’ve never really spoken to them in between all your homework assignments and midterms. It may be that one person descending the stairway as you’re going up whose way you try to move out of just as they try to do the same for you. You play that little game where both of you keep trying until one finally gives up and walks off with an awkward laugh. Or it may even be that elderly person sitting next to you on the bus who is just as big a Harry Potter fan as you. They picked up the first book to read to their grandkid one day and never looked back.
Common soil is the part of our daily lives we shake off with a polite smile, but it’s as integral a part of our human experience as the seemingly bigger moments we take joy in or make meaningful connections out of. Because at the end of it all, all of it is meaningful: the great Venn diagram in the sky may be cruel in its reluctance to share with us who we would click with and relate to and love best, but we click with others in little ways as much as we click with others in big ways, and we soldier on; 7.125 billion strong and 7.125 billion united, even if just by a smidge.