Close your eyes…

Last week it was. I was heading towards my training. While I was fighting my personal demons, I looked out of the window of the bus. A confused man was trying to get some attention from an elderly woman who was waiting for her bus. It was clear he just needed some attention. The loneliness radiated from his posture. He was tired and desperate. Trust me. In general, a (hu)man who asks for help, in these conditions, really needs it! It takes a lot of courage and desperation to accept that you can’t do it alone.

The woman went through different stages. First she tried to ignore the situation. Then she tried harder to ignore the situation. Then there was a brief contact between them which indicated she tried to get rid of the situation and then she ignored the situation. When none of this helped, she stood up and walked away.

The effort made by this woman, to ignore the situation and eventually to remove herself from the situation hit me like a lantern post can hit your head when you are looking the other way. It ripped something in my heart and I could not think of anything else then to get off the bus as soon as possible. I went to sit at that same spot the old lady had been sitting. I just sat there and looked up to the man. “Are you okay?” –“Not at all”.

Our conversation did not take long. I convinced him to sit next to me and just listened to him for a bit. He dozed off several times and though I was sincerely concerned about his health, all I could do for him at that moment, was just sit there with him, waiting for his bus. He argued how people never stop to disappoint and never care. I understood this statement and I felt ashamed. This is what humanity comes down to all too often. His bus arrived and he said a brief goodbye. I offered him something to munch on and he left. As he entered the bus he turned around and waved. There was a hint of a grateful smile on his face and he radiated just that little spark of energy that hopefully would get him to his next destination. I hope he is okay. I hope he will be okay.

It took me 10 minutes. 10 minutes! It did not cost me anything. I was not in danger. I do not feel superior now. I do not share this story with you to get compliments on how fantastic I am and how well I spent these 10 minutes. I do not feel better than that woman who walked away. I understand the wish to close our eyes. The world can be cruel and this cruelty hurts. It is easier to walk away. All I am, is disappointed and outraged. Outraged about the disability of so many people to (wo)man up and stand our ground. It just takes 10 minutes, or less, to give someone the feeling that he or she matters. That he or she is a human, just as valuable as the rest of us. It takes a friendly hello. It takes a cup of coffee or a handshake.

It takes being silent and just sitting with someone.

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