Lessons We Learn  

rm_Ladyt53 63F
353 posts
1/12/2006 12:19 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Lessons We Learn

I walk through life with my eyes seeming wide open, reacting to the things that catch my attention sometimes but basically oblivious to life going on around me. For instance there is a homeless person who sits right outside my office building and each morning when I arrive for work and every evening when I leave I walk right pass that person, seeing him sitting there with all his worldly possessions in a black plastic trash bag along with his dirty used coffee cup, that he uses to collect spare change in, and never once have I given him a second glance, it’s as if he was invisible to me in the past.

Today was different then most other days. It started out sort of gloomy not quite raining but a slow steady mist was falling, the kind that’s uncomfortable because it not enough water falling to require an umbrella, but yet it makes your clothes damp and stick to your skin, and with the temperatures hovering somewhere in the low forties it’s not the kind of weather that you want to spend much time out in. It’s still dark outside when I arrive for work so I’m already scurrying about to get inside my building for the most part, the area is relatively safe but I still feel apprehensive being out there in the early morning hours.

I keep my head up and I’m always looking around for shadows lurking about in the doorways of the closed businesses in the area, staying alert and prepared for anything that might occur in the cloak of darkness. Today something did happen, the man whom I’ve walked pass a thousand times wasn’t sitting in his usual place, and I guess I wouldn’t have notice had he not walked up along side me as I bent the corner that’s about 200 feet from the door of my office building. He startled me at first, my heart skipped a few beats, and my pulse went up a couple of notches. I’ve seen this man a thousand times and never once had he spoken a word or even acknowledged that I existed, just as I had done with him.

Today he walked along side me and spoke. Asked how I had been, I was taken aback at first, a little afraid but mostly shocked that he was actually speaking, I responded to his question with the usual fundamental dry response reserved for strangers, and said that I was fine. What came next really threw me for a loop. He told me that I wasn’t looking my usual chipper self that I appeared a little off, said that I was walking a little slower and not holding my head as high, said he could tell that something was amiss with me, asked if maybe I was going though something or perhaps I wasn’t well physically. Said he couldn’t put his finger on it but that he knew something was wrong.

His words stopped me dead in my tracks and if you can image from the point when the conversation started I had picked up quite a pace so I felt like I had put on breaks when my legs stopped moving. I turned and looked directly into this man’s face, I studied his eyes, lids a little droopy, lots of premature wrinkles around them, but I guess if you’re living on the streets that can be expected. I stood there for several seconds just staring at him as though I was frozen, before finally asking him what could he possible know about me, asked him who he was and why did he feel something was wrong?

Didn’t really expect an answer because I figured he only struck up the conversation as pretext before pleading for loose change. His next response nearly knocked me off my feet, he told me how long I had been working at my firm, almost to the exact month that I started. Said that he had noticed me, before the few extra pounds that I had put on over the years I’ve worked there (said the weight looked good on me). He told me of all the different hairstyles that I had gone through. He knew my car, even the license number. He remembered all the evenings when I worked late into the night. Mentioned how unhappy I use to look, remembered how all of a sudden my life seemed to brighten up. At this point I stopped him.

How could this strange little homeless man, know so much about me? I who considered myself a good judge of people, know absolutely nothing of him, never once having looked beyond his tattered clothing, well worn shoes, or that wrinkled oversized black trash liner that sat beside him every day on that cold dark and often times damp pavement that I’m assuming he considered home, until the security personnel chased him away for loitering.

I realized now that my eyes weren’t wide open, in fact as I know now that they had to be glued tightly shut. 8 long years I have walked pass another human being and never once had a humane thought about what might have brought this person to this stage in life, could he be someone’s son, brother, father, or husband? It never occurred to me until today, I never thought about it and worst yet I never cared. Needless to say that I now feel shame and regret for not having the compassion to try and make a difference in this person life, but never again will I be this indifferent towards another soul.

I’ve been counting my blessings all my life, and today I was given one that I didn’t even realize existed, a blessing called reform!

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