There is a traffic light between my house and my office that if you don’t catch it just right the wait for it to turn green is anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. I have complained about it several times to the traffic engineers and their response is always the same, it works fine but the first car in line needs to be right at the big white stop line to trigger the sensors. If they are a foot away the “computer system” doesn’t know there is a car waiting.
I was second in line this morning, waiting for the light to change when an older couple, eighties or so pulled in behind me. I looked in my rearview mirror and the man driving took his glasses off and with both hands wiped his face. The lady in the passenger seat was wiping her eyes with a tissue. I could tell they were both in distress.
Four minutes passed, the light was still red, and these two individuals were still very upset. The woman began speaking and suddenly the man buried his face in his hands. The light turned green, and I went on my way hoping they would head in my direction, but they didn’t. They turned right, away me.
It is doubtful I will ever see them again. I am not sure I would recognize these two faces in the rearview mirror if I ran into either of them at the grocery store or Home Depot. I will never know what they were upset about. I will never know how their story ends.
“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment, and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner
As many of you know I work in the non-profit world providing housing for individuals and families that, without the services of our organization, would otherwise be homeless. I see hopelessness, and despair weekly. I have only been working in this field for a short period of time, about five years. It is my second and last career, one that I hope will earn me some brownie points with the Buddha when it comes time to be reincarnated, maybe a turtle rather than a cockroach.
I know that there is a lot of sadness in the world. Some of it is brief, an elderly parent dying for instance, sad but not unexpected. But other sorrows can seemingly follow us around for months, years, even generations. None of us are immune from sadness, grief, or unhappiness. No one experiences days filled with rainbows and gumdrops every day. A little rain must fall on everyone no matter what your lot in life.
There is a family in my community, a prominent and very wealthy family that over the course of the last 15 years have had one horrible thing after another befall them, children born with severe birth defects, adults afflicted with progressive, deadly diseases at a young age, sudden deaths in otherwise healthy family members, and suicides.
I remember thinking once upon a time how nice it would be to be married into this family, beach, lake, and mountain houses at your disposal. A big family “farm” to play on. By the way, in my neck of the woods when you hear one of these blueblood families talk about their “farms”, they aren’t farming anything, it’s just 100 plus acres in the middle of nowhere to drink, shoot guns and ride ATV’s. Yes, on the outside this family seemingly had it all along with all the toys. But money, and prestige can’t protect you from the heartache that comes with living.
“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” – Dalai Lama
I do not judge the universe. I am always fascinated to hear the stories of people that don’t have a single coin in their pocket, just the clothes on their back and all their worldly possessions in a garbage bag. I hear these stories every week. Typically, these people aren’t mad at the world. Many still profess a deep belief in God while living on the sidewalk under a blanket in the rain which I personally find insane but that’s a different subject for a different day. They don’t judge the universe, which is basically the same as saying, it is what it is.
They understand that darkness and light falls on everyone, sadly they are just getting an unequal share of the darkness than the rest of us. If I ask them what tomorrow looks like they don’t know. They assume tomorrow will look just like today if they make it too tomorrow and for many that is a big if. Survival is the name of the game. While we are wondering what we are going to have for dinner tonight they are trying to remember what day it is, and which mission or church is serving lunch. While we are resting in our warm homes watching some stupid television show on our big screen televisions, they are looking for some nook with an overhang away from the prying eyes of the police and the public to catch a few hours of sleep.
I try to imagine what had made that older couple so upset. Honestly the list is endless as it is for all of us. I am not a fan of people who walk around with their heads in the clouds quick to tell you, oh I am blessed when asked how they are doing. What I know about these people is that I have caught them on a good day. What about the day their child gets arrested for selling drugs, or when they get arrested for a DUI? Are they still blessed? Are they strong enough and secure enough in their faith to face the utter darkness that will engulf them?
Life is hard and we can’t bullshit our way through it because at some point the bullshit will get so deep we can taste it. Do me a favor for the short time we all have left on this planet, be kind, be fair, to those who need our care and our compassion. There are many hurting people out there and one small act of kindness might make a difference in their life. Now, you can still fuck with Trump supporters because they are inbred, racist, piece of crap morons. Let them wallow in the shit they have created. They are the exception and I am pretty sure Jesus would agree with me.