Thursday, May 29, 2008

Imagine if we only had the little things to worry about

So, yesterday my day began with cyberspace stealing my words.

What's with that? Doesn't cyberspace know I just spent half an hour crafting the perfect response? Stupid technology.

Later, on my way to work, I decided to treat myself to a vanilla latte. I pulled into the drive-thru, gave my order, got my drink and drove off. By the time I took my first sip, I was two blocks away. Imagine my annoyance when I discovered there was no vanilla in my vanilla latte.

What's with that? I was looking forward to a Vanilla latte. If I'd wanted a plain one I'd have ordered a plain one. Dang. I knew that woman would get it wrong. She couldn't even hear me properly when I ordered. She repeated it back to me and couldn't remember what size I'd ordered even.

As I drove across the bridge leading to downtown, I passed a man, obviously homeless. He looked sad. Dejected. Despair written in his demeanour.

What's with that? Doesn't he know it's a beautiful day out there? Can't he change his attitude?

I got to the shelter where I work, drove into the underground parkade where I have a reserved spot. As I walked towards the elevator I took a sip of my latte. Still no vanilla. Ugh. Don't they realize how important it is to get the job right? Boy, how to start my day off wrong!

I got on the elevator with a co-worker and immediately told him about my missing vanilla. He had his own complaints. As we rode up towards the 6th floor, the elevator stopped at 1 to let on a client. He rolled himself into the elevator. His wheelchair was scuffed up and battered. A plastic grocery bag hung from one handle. It contained his worldly posessions. His chair only had one metal bar for his feet. He only needed one bar for one foot. He didn't have a second one. I said good-morning. He mumbled back. He got out at three and wheeled his way towards Day Sleep. The elevator moved upwards as I sipped my vanillaless latte.

Imagine if we only had the little things to worry about.

I have the capacity to treat myself to a latte.

I have a car. I can drive through the Drive-thru. Dang, I have two feet. I can even walk myself over to the Starbucks across the bridge from where I work if I don't feel like driving and want to get out and experience the day.

I have a job to go to. A job I love.

A home to come home to. A home that is welcoming and safe.

I have people in my life who love me and whom I love. Arms to hold me.

Imagine if we only had the little things to worry about.

That man in the elevator. He only had one leg. One foot. He's homeless. He lost his job after the accident that cost him his leg. He was drinking. As far back as he can remember, he's always drunk. His mother drank. His father. He doesn't remember anyone not drinking. And then he lost his wife. His family doesn't know where he is. He doesn't want them to. What difference would it make if they knew? He'd only be a burden on them and they can't afford to take care of him. Their lives are laden with poverty. They drift in and out of homelessness too.

Imagine if we only had the little things to worry about.

My day didn't 'get better' yesterday. My attitude did.

When I walked into my office I was greeted with a major crisis involving a client who was mistreated. It took several hours and some serious conversations to deal with it -- there is no resolution. That will be on-going.

At nine pm, I met with staff who were involved with the situation and a representative from another organization. For the staff involved, this situation has caused serious concern, serious angst. They are charged with protecting our clients. With doing everything they can to keep them safe. In this situation, they feel like they failed a man who depended upon them to help him. The aggressor in this situation was someone in authority. Someone staff trusted to come when they called and help them when a situation got out of the realm of their control. I heard their anger. Their sorrow. Their sense of betrayal. It was palpable in every word they spoke. We didn't have answers for them. Only a commitment to 'do the right thing'. And we will. But it doesn't change what happened to the victim. It doesn't repair broken bridges of trust.

Imagine if we only had the little things to worry about.

At ten pm, I rode the elevator down to the parkade and got into my car to drive home. It was a beautiful evening. Warm. Cloudy skies dusted with sombre hues of the departing sun. As I drove out of the parkade I saw a pile of blankets on the stairs leading to a side door of the building. Beneath the pile a man slept. We don't allow sleeping on the property. We invite people inside where they're safe. Staff left the man sleeping where he was. Perhaps they believed he was safer outside.

It was a tough day yesterday. Not because I lost some words to cyberspace. Not because my coffee was missing its taste. It was tough because I had to deal with humanity at its humblest. I had to measure the human condition in its broken up, heart broken reality and know that my best was good enough. My best was all I could give.

I came home to Ellie and her sidekick Mollie's greetings at the door. They bounced around, Ellie gave me her obligatory head butt, she smiled and whined in ecstasy as I pet her. The house was quiet. C.C. was out. Liseanne was still at work. I opened the fridge. Debated on what to have.

I have options. I made my choice.

I went out on the deck. Listened to the sounds of traffic in the distance. To the late night twittering of birds nesting down in the trees scattered along the edges of the park on the other side of the lane.

My neighbour was outside too. He said hello. "Let me know if Dylan gets too loud. I never know when too much is too much with Dylan."

I laughed. "Dylan is perfect for a night like tonight."

And he sang, as only Dylan can sing, "Chimes of Freedom"

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

It was a perfect ending to a perfect day. A day in which I got to get over myself with a reality shake and a change of attitude. A day in which I got to live on purpose.

The question is: What little things are keeping you from living on purpose. What little things are amounting to mountains of discord in your day?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. What little things are amounting to mountains of discord in my day? Yep, it's time to get over myself. I have a God who loves me in a personal way, things to do, blessings to count and people to love. What more do I need?