When was your last bad day? I mean really bad, full of despair, ugly-cry bad day? Mine was February 5, this year. Nine days before (January 27) I had surgery to fix a recently broken ankle and a torn ligament. I was spending six weeks of non weight-bearing recovery in Seattle (to be closer to the surgeon and my weekly post-op appts.). My primary home is about 70 miles South of Seattle.
The morning of the 5th, I woke up and for some reason the condo I was staying in felt smaller than usual. My husband had left the day before after spending several days with me directly after the surgery.
My ankle was sore, and my body was angry from the imbalance of not being able to walk. I was stiff and everything seemed to hurt. I got up to make breakfast. Balancing on one foot with my right knee on a scooter is harder than you might think. In the kitchen I became exhausted cutting half an apple and making toast. I had no energy, nor much of an appetite. I decided to get on my yoga mat and foam roller to see if I could coax my body into releasing.
My body wasn’t having it. Nothing was letting go, in fact, I think everything tightened up even more. I was sore, tired, in pain, frustrated and extremely lonely. I missed my home, my husband, my cats, my active way of life, my freedom and mobility. Laying on my back in the middle of the floor, I realized I was confined to 800 square feet for six weeks and this was the beginning of week 2. I was unable to go anywhere, unable to do much of anything. Unable to walk, or shower, even day-to-day tasks needed more negotiating and maneuvering than seemed necessary. I began to cry.
But even in the light of this painful moment, I was in a nice condo in downtown Seattle, out of the winter weather, with heat, food, hot water, soft blankets, clean clothes, a fantastic door man, and a great many comforts.
Now think of the homeless and the less fortunate. Endlessly wondering not only where their next meal is going to come from, but how to stay warm and dry and out of the weather. As well as how to keep clean (self and clothes), where’s the nearest restroom they can use, where to sleep, where to find water to drink, and where is a safe place to be (especially for women). I would assume they don’t even bother with the trivial things like SPF, lip balm, nutrition, what song they’d like to listen to next, how to charge their cell phone, or who has liked their last Facebook post.
Over the last two years, I have made up two different sets of (5) blessing bags and have given them out personally to folks in Olympia and Seattle. I am about to make up another set of 5 for the winter season of 2018. I now carry several spare five dollar bills in my wallet and especially when walking downtown Seattle, will give a bill to women on the street. I look each person in eyes, often put my hand on their shoulder and say God Bless You or I will pray for you. I smile and walk away. As I walk away, each time I am filled with great compassion as well as deep sadness.
I know not everyone can afford to do this. But treating someone with compassion costs nothing and I’m guessing your bad day, doesn’t equal their daily struggle to survive. If everyone could experience connecting even for a few seconds with someone less fortunate than themselves, this world would be a different place. Someone once said, “Your life should be evaluated by what you did for those who had less than you.” There is something to be said for this. Because what if YOU were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want someone to be compassionate towards you? No one typically thinks of this. No one wants to think of this. No one plans to be homeless or on the street. We can’t assume we know everyone’s story. It’s a pretty righteous frame of mind to think that if others had just worked harder, they would be in a better situation. Bad things happen to good people. Not all homeless are drug users or alcoholics. And it’s dangerous to think so. Some are mentally ill and can’t afford or don’t have the resources for help. Some don’t want to better their lives, but some do . . . many do. No one chooses to be homeless.
Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
And live by it.
I try to.