before i could think, the words came out of my mouth, “you’re too young to have a past.”

he quietly shook his head, looked me directly in the eyes, and said, “when i was 16, my best friend died in my arms.  how’s that for a past?”

those words were spoken to me a few years ago by a guy in the basement of a smoky bar in salt lake city.  i doubt that i’ll ever cross his path again, but i know that i’ll never forget his words.

it’s so easy to make assumptions.  what’s hard is to take nothing on appearance — to not be distracted by qualifiers like age or gender or ethnicity.

there is a story inside each of us, waiting to be told.

i am a better person for learning to listen.

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