Sunday, April 29, 2012

GRATITUDE - April 29, 2012


If you read the bio or know me, you are aware of the minor health issues I have had with Cancer, my heart, vision, hearing, blah, blah, blah.   That said, I feel so fortunate to have the level of physical activity I am currently enjoying.

Lest I be inclined to whine about a pulled muscle or a sore back or the lack of inspiration to make an eight hour work day a twelve hour workday or my "need" to take occasional naps on weekends, I don't need to look far to see those far worse off than I am.

I rarely (I would say never, but can't do that now) give money to homeless people, but I did today. I am a believer in the "them that don't work, don't eat" (exceptions are elderly and children) and generally turn a deaf ear to an apparently healthy adult begging for money.  

Today, I was in the left-turn lane at the stoplight off a major thoroughfare turning into a shopping complex that houses 'Home Depot' - home builder supply store.  It was pushing one hundred degrees and I was feeling beat down like a dirt-dog after a fairly grueling day remodeling an investment property of ours and was off to buy more supplies for the seemingly, never-ending money-pit project.

There in the median, with a cardboard sign (it was upside down, so I can't say what the message was) was a truly hapless individual.  Physically deformed to the point it was difficult to watch him struggle back and forth along the rocky median strip, making himself visible to each of the cars stopped at the light.

I have made this trip hundreds of times and there is almost always a homeless person at this "trapped at the light" fishing in the waiting pool at the base of the fish ladder dam during salmon-spawning season.

I, as most of the motorists in line do, ignore the beggars, turn up the radio and avert eye contact. 

Today was different. 

I was no longer a 64 year-old, balding, legally blind, deaf, daily-meds to keeping my ticker from bursting out of my chest, Cancer survivor (that may not the be correct term for someone still here after 4 years of post chemo/radiation treatment...but it is one I choose to use)...I was a healthy, energetic, fully functioning, gainfully-employed adult American male and grateful for the distinction.  I was overwhelmed by thankfulness at how good I felt and who I was at that moment in time.  I may get my turn in the future to be less capable than today, but today, I was capable.

Capable of undoing my seat belt and getting my wallet out.  
Capable of gathering some bills and rolling my window down. 
Capable of extending my fully-functioning left arm out the window of a car that I own free and clear.  
Capable of using the four fingers and thumb of my left hand to grasp the "extra" money and make it visible to the human being that God did not grace with the same benefits as he did me.

Not very capable of watching him struggle towards me limping and dragging a worthless left leg behind him.

Not so capable of watching him struggle to hold his pitiful, greasy, crumpled  'upside down' cardboard pleas for assistance (He was one foot away - so I probably could have figured out the message - even with my 20/1250 vision) while reaching for the bills with his "good" arm.

Barely capable of meeting eyes for a split second...just long enough to witness his version of Gratitude.  

At that moment, I realized that my daily attempts of expressing gratitude were pretty pitiful and lame in comparison.

Today, it wasn't just his physical disabilities that prevented him from reaching the money in my outstretched hand in a timely manner, before the light turned green and we all would push the pedal down to get on with our take-it-for-granted lives.

Every car in front of me had a arm stretched out with dollar bills gently swaying in the breeze.

Most of the cars I could see in my rear-view mirror had the same human compassion example extended toward one less fortunate.

The light turned green. No one moved.

The light turned red again.

The light turned green again and this time the cars started to move forward, but at pace slow enough so they could each stop and offer their monetary assistance to this man, so he wouldn't have to walk to us.

No one raced their engines.  No one honked their horn.

I am thinking that each of us...drove our shiny new, expensive cars away from this experience with a bit more Gratitude in our lives than we have had in many a day.

I did.  Lessons in a life well-lived are available to each of us daily.

Today I am thankful for the opportunity to witness Gratitude in its finest form.


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