Photo from juxtaexposed.comI was stepping off of the Metro on my way to work the other day when — I don’t know why — something made me look up. Two of the large…ceiling tiles, I guess you would call them, were missing. Taking in the high, vaulted construction of the ceiling got me thinking about trust.

I trust that someone built the Metro station well enough to hold up all the earth, asphalt, and traffic above me. I was in effect placing my safety in the hands of people I had never met: designers, builders, suppliers, inspectors, and those who maintain the space.

It made me realize how much we rely on others every single day. We live in houses and work in buildings made by strangers. We buy food grown and often cooked by people we know nothing about. And on and on.

The world is built on trust. We couldn’t function without it. We’d be paralyzed if we didn’t have some measure of faith in others.

When that trust is broken, however, via any number of means — the selling of tainted food products, cars needing to be recalled, etc. — we become enraged. Yet it’s more than just good, old-fashioned corporate greed or human error that triggers us. We get angry because these occasions also remind us of how very fragile we are.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to harm or kill us. It can be disease, an accident, a lack of air, water, food, or any number of things. But it’s hard to stare down our own mortality.

Sure, we each take precautions to varying degrees. And there are laws, the police, safety inspectors, and such, all of which buy some measure of protection. But there’s a certain beauty to our raw, naked vulnerability as well. Relying on the works of others creates a web, not just of interdependency but also interconnectedness, if only we choose to perceive it that way.

So, the next time you take the subway or ride in a car or walk over a bridge, say a silent thank you to the people who made that moment and that part of your journey possible.

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