Growing up, I was a fan of the science fiction miniseries V. The “V” stood for “visitors” and it was an imaginative take on what would happen should visitors from another planet come to our own planet. The series I remember had a trademark gaseous compound that would, however, cause the visitors to remove their very humanlike outer shell to expose their reptilian form underneath. For those familiar with this series, this will be richly remembered. If you were unfamiliar with the series, take our word for it. It was a bit graphic for television at the time.
This past weekend, I had my own set of visitors: longtime friends from the mainland. As you might imagine, I spent a full weekend getting the right snorkeling gear, finding places to use the gear, riding in a helicopter, finding restaurants all over the island that everyone could agree on, stopping at scenic overlooks, looking for Magnum P.I.’s house…I suspect you get the picture. I was working hard to be sure that my visitors were having a wonderful and enriching time.
But something else started to happen. Before I knew it, I was doing things I had never done before. See, one of the things about visitors, and especially visitors who have some adventure in them, is that as a host we get to learn something or see something that we never knew or saw before. We go to that town that’s always too crowded otherwise. We venture on a road whose traffic is legendary. We eat at the restaurants that we’d never go to on our own. By entertaining and hosting others, we begin to make our own lives richer, fuller, and maybe a little more interesting.
And that is where something really magical can happen. When we are including others in our lives, when we’re making plans and showing them how we live, many of us start to get a glimpse of our very own lives. By opening up our lives to be seen by visitors, we see our own lives in a different way or from a different angle. And this isn’t by chance. The root of the word visitor is to view or to see. Visitors help us not only see more clearly our homes, our environments, and our surroundings. They help us see ourselves, our lives more clearly.
When my friends left the island, I was changed. It’s not that I was tanner or that I had finally learned where to get organic raw green coffee beans, though both of those things were true. I had not turned back into a reptilian humanoid alien, though there are times I still wonder if I am really from this planet. Instead, I received the gift of my friends’ sight, of seeing my life through their eyes, and being incredibly grateful that this is the life I get to live. Sure, there are always things or details in our lives that we might wish would change. We wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t. But taking a moment to see our lives through the eyes of people who care about us, to let some of the outer trappings of our lives melt away and feel what is truly underneath, may often leave us with the sense that though we struggle at times in our lives and we may feel frustrated or even discouraged, we would not trade the lives we have for anybody else’s, even a kindly extra-terrestrial lizard person determined to take over the world.
Blessings to you all