When I was in college in New Jersey, I would often take the train down to go back home to visit my mom in Northern Virginia. I would stare out the window, looking at the scenery. I would see the many houses, and I'd wonder about the people who lived in them. Sometimes, there would be people outside; sometimes, not.
As the train passed the many, many houses, I'd think about the people who lived there, the lives they led. I'd begin to feel very insignificant. I'd never know those people. They all felt the same self-importance about themselves that I felt about me and my own life. There were so many of them. I'd never know them. I'd never know billions of people. I wasn't really all that significant, was I? I was just one among billions.
That's where the prompt for Sunday Scribblings took me this week. There are so many people I'll never know and who will never know me. For all the emotions I feel and beliefs I have and actions I take, there are billions of others doing the same. How many of the people on earth have I encountered? How many at least have "met" me?
My parents and siblings: 6
My grandparents: 4
My aunts, uncles and cousins: 33
My great-aunts and great-uncles and second cousins: 40
Elementary school classes: 120
Junior high and high school classes: 600
Fellow cast mates and workers on theatre plays in high school: 400
College dorm and classes and newspaper mates: 1,000
Donut shop and 7-11 customers: 1,000
Colleagues at first couple of jobs: 150
Clients and colleagues and focus group participants at research job: 1,000
Chronicle colleagues and focus group participants: 2,000
My own family: 4
My husband's family: 30
Kids' school mates and parents and teachers: 1,500
Random encounters walking dogs, playing with kids, etc.: 200
Grand total: 8,087. I'm sure I'm missing a few. But it's safe to say that of the 6,641,114,623 people on earth, I've "properly" met the merest of fraction of them.
[Photo from NASA.]