It is easy to pinpoint life-changing experiences in extreme circumstances. There is proof enough in the peaks and nadirs of story arcs across literature and television. From a writer’s financial distress to an athlete’s career-ending injury, the playbook is out in the open. However, transformation — or revelation, the choice is yours — is much more of a gradual process. It’s not a firework. It’s the lightbulb in a homemade circuit. It’s less fiery (hopefully) and far more gratifying. Barring frequent introspection, this fact of life slips under our noses without so much as a blip. Forget the spectacles in science fiction. The apparent lulls that occupy the spaces between us and our interactions are where the atmospheres shift.
Each word we learn in a new language, every culture we witness (in their native environments or via representation), and every stranger we engage shape how we view ourselves and the world at large. The closer we get, the less foreign things become. What matters then is whether or not we choose to recognize our similarities or stubbornly cling to and exacerbate our differences.