I’ve been saving this entry for a while now, but this week feels like the right time to share it.
I first thought about writing it several months ago when I was watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory episode “The Scavenger Vortex,” which is the episode in which Raj, after his dinner party is rejected by the rest of the gang, devises a scavenger hunt, crisscrossing the city, for them to play in teams of two – Sheldon and Penny, Leonard and Bernadette, and Howard and Amy.
Whereas the interactions between the members of the other two teams focus on their differences – Sheldon’s book smarts and lack of common sense at odds with Penny’s common sense and lack of book smarts, Bernadette’s intensity at odds with Leonard’s relative nonchalance – and the friction created by them, the interaction between Howard and Amy focuses on their mutual love of Neil Diamond (highlighted to great effect throughout the episode).
It probably goes without saying that neither of the first two teams has very much fun on the scavenger hunt. In fact, both teams are so focused on achieving their goal of winning the contest that they forget (or at least neglect) to enjoy themselves.
The two “outcasts” of the group, meanwhile, have more fun than anyone, forging a bond over their shared love of Neil Diamond, singing his songs as they travel from location to location, and actually enjoying the contest instead of focusing solely on winning it.
What initially seems like a trivial coincidence evolves into a recurrent comic trope before finally underscoring the importance, the empowerment, and the joy that come with finding common ground (however trivial it might seem) with someone else.
It’s easy to divide ourselves into groups – male and female, black and white, gay and straight, liberal and conservative – based on our differences.
It’s harder to look beyond the surface to find common ground with others – and to remember to try to enjoy the journeys that we take with them. But even though it’s hard, it’s imperative – perhaps now as much as ever – that we do, so the next time you see someone who seems completely and totally unlike you, take a minute to take a step back, consider what the two of you might have in common, and focus on the things that unite you instead of the ones that divide you.