One guy in particular was asleep face-down on the sidewalk with his arms in awkward positions. He didn't look good from my car. I actually thought he might be dead. I pulled over, got out, and walked over to him. A couple of other people on the street also approached him. One guy nudged him with his foot, telling him to hurry and wake up. The police were just a block away, and if he couldn't get himself up, he'd be arrested. The poor guy was just trying to sleep. He looked positively miserable, and who could blame him. He yelled and muttered at the guy who had nudged him, and he started to pull himself up. I asked him if he'd like a couple of muffins. All of a sudden he seemed like a person. He looked at me and said that would be awesome. That was the best thing anybody could say to him. And thank you. And you're an angel. You get the picture -- he went instantly from feeling victimized to feeling lucky. Because of a couple of muffins.
My husband was supportive, as always, but said he wished I would take someone with me on these little jaunts of mine. He's probably right, and I will, if and when I find someone as crazy as I am. It occurred to me how very different all of our points of view were on this one tiny moment -- a guy waking up on the street before the police came, and a crazy lady giving out day-old muffins. The police with their sympathy and their duty, the other homeless guy with his impersonal nudge as the best support he had to offer, me with my passion for getting the food to the people, my husband with his concern for my safety, and lastly, the guy and his reaction to the short series of minor events.
It made me think about how often I react to situations without paying any attention to my reaction. Do I choose it? Am I reacting based on previous similar incidents? Do I choose to trust or fear or care or let go or enjoy or judge with my whole mind, or are my pre-programmed prejudices running me? We all have prejudices. Hopefully we're becoming a little more aware of them thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, along with all the work so many have undertaken to develop equality and fairness in this country. We are so far away from the goal, and I never would have imagined that I was part of the problem, but I am. I make assumptions that other lives share similar experiences to mine. I expect self control and manners and generosity and honesty in everyone, because those are qualities I was raised to have and to value. It's hard to imagine what life would be like if I didn't believe in anybody.
Knowing that millions of people are without homes, without food, without medical care or clean water or clothing makes me take action and want to help solve these problems. But when I realize that millions of people don't know what it feels like to care or be cared for, I'm numb. I can't embrace it. I can't imagine or empathize or envision any cure for the intensity of it, the poverty of heart. This is a poverty I have no muffins for.