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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Watching other people, there's so much I do not see

Ryan Stefan

Sometimes I look at people and wonder about their story.

I assess them too quickly and make mental notes that feel like facts. But I learned long ago I do not know their story. The full story. The real story. And ... I never will.

"All of my favorite people have been wounded."

The man who said that is artist Will Kautz, writing about the loss of his son, Justin, at age 25. His son used to write down meaningful quotes in a journal and he found one that explained why his son often liked to say, "Live everything."

The quote was from poet-novelist Rainer Maria Rilke who said: “You are so young, so before all beginning, I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.

"Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Kautz concluded, "The most beautiful and redemptive lessons in life are delivered to us through pain. ... I’ve also noticed that all of my favorite people have been wounded. They have all been made tender and alluring because their souls experienced trauma."

There it is. That common denominator we all share. It's something I cannot forget ... when I'm busy judging others.

I’m Lonny Cain and that’s my Perspective.