It’s cold outside and we can’t feel our fingers. But is that all we can’t feel?
Have we become so indifferent to life that we have stopped feeling at all?
Are walls still so tall and thick than simple human emotions never escapes?
Do we get swallowed into our way of life that we neglect it all together?
It is very easy to get stuck in this rut. Feeling unmotivated. Believing it isn’t worth the effort. Wondering who cares.
Sound like someone you know.
This morning, I was driving to the grocery store after leaving the post office and as I waited for the light to change at the intersection, I noticed this young man trying to steer a bike built for a 12 year old while two bags were tethered to it. I could not see his face, but knew that he was leaving somewhere, perhaps with a destination not yet known. The light turned green for me and I drove through the intersection and watched him walk south on one of the major streets in town. In some ways, my life has become jaded. I see things that others ignore…I plead for those that have no voice…and I do what can be done.
I continued toward my destination, wondering what this young man’s story was and how he became someone with his every belonging tied to a bicycle. And I knew what would happen if I continued on to the grocery store without hearing more…
So I turned into the neighborhood to the south and turned around. I drove towards where I could park my car and walked towards him with a bag of essentials and a few dollars. (A few months ago, some friends and I made 80 bags full of socks, bottles of water, toothpaste, etc for people that might need a little something.) And we walked toward one another, with one purpose in my heart while he had no clue of what I was about to do. I originally thought he was much younger when I first saw him, but saw that he was more about 25 years old, as the wind took his hood from his head and his red hair and mustache smelled of a week’s worth of grime still present. His name was David and he told me that he wanted to make his life better for others. I told him that he needed to take care of himself before he could take care of others. The words he used were juvenile in nature, but I didn’t shy away. In some ways, I was amazed at the courage I felt in approaching a stranger like that. I am sure that he was high or just coming off of something. We walked for a bit and I gave him the bag and the money and told him to “Have a Great Day” as I walked towards my car to carry on with my errands.
Do I know why I noticed this young man? No. Maybe it was because to see anyone walking in the middle of January in Nebraska is unlikely. Maybe it was because in our city, there is very few homeless. Maybe it was because I couldn’t ignore him. I tried to. I drove away.
But some things, you can’t unsee. Some words you can’t unhear.
And as I got into my car, I was reminded of another story that unfolded in front of me a few months ago, waiting in line to check out at the grocery store, where a young woman with two small children looked painfully heartbroken. She gave the cashier her coupons, sticking to her list, because she refused to go over her budget. But I see the strain on her face. I see the lines of worry. She looked no more than 25 with her hair dyed scarlet as it was held up in a loosly made bun. As she politely asked her son not to touch where the cashier was filling the bags, not once did I see her smile. Even when she was asked a question. She never really made eye contact and her thin body gave notice to the items that were clearly not part of her diet.
And just like that, she was gone. I wanted to tell her’ “It will be okay” or something to help her believe in tomorrow.
But I didn’t.
I became numb to her life, only focusing on my own.
Just like the rest of the world.
And I was very upset with myself for not following my heart. For ignoring an opportunity to do something different, but instead, I played it safe.
Growing up, I remember these books that would have alternate endings in them depending on which decision I made….for example, if I was faced with a decision about going into a cave or not, I would turn to different page numbers and began to write my own ending to the book. These interactive stories are just like life. We can change what happens next and if we don’t like what happens, we can go back and rewrite some of our decisions.
But isn’t that the trick of life…that we kind of ignore it until it jolts us into a sense of awareness that wasn’t there before?
Aren’t we all in a perpetual vacuum of going somewhere? Anywhere?
But life doesn’t work that way.
Life is about living…
Life is about taking chances that won’t be there tomorrow. It is about giving your love away, never knowing if it will ever be returned to you. It is about saying those words that make you tremble, stutter, and yet know you would be lost without having ever said them. It is about the adventure of the people you meet, the places you go, and what you learn along the way.
Life is out there! It is waiting for you to take full advantage of its beauty. The secret to living a happy life is living a full life and if you quarantine yourself off from the world, then you are missing out. You are sequestering your life from the rest of us…those that need you to be a part of our lives…to make our lives beautiful.
Life will get your attention in subtle ways to see of you are paying attention. Maybe it means nothing now, but it always means something. Are we so deaf to ignore even the silent pleas from the people we encounter every day? Have we become numb to human compassion and refuse to take one more step than the rest of the world?
My jaded world helps me see the lost who seem to pretend to know where they are…the weary that would never admit their tiredness…the ones who suffocate under their own breath.
We can write the rest of our lives. It starts today. It begins with the resolve to living a full life. One filled with bravery, strength, and hope. Our being here is important…and we must embrace these ordinary moments that come before us all so that we can make other lives better.
Michelle A. Homme 2015 ©