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Thursday, May 13, 2010

It Doesn't Always Have to be Complex

When I was a child, there was a strip mall a couple blocks down with a dry cleaner’s at one end; and there wasn’t a day that Danny didn’t stand outside of it.

Danny was a slow-moving and happy man, and it was written all over his face that he enjoyed his life.

“Nice daaaaaaaaay!” he’d enthuse. Danny’s definition of a nice day ran the gamut of blue sky to rainy to full-blown blizzard. As far as Danny was concerned, every day was a nice day.

My interaction with the handicapped thinned as I aged. Once grown and forced into the real world, the typical single-occupant commute becomes a lonely affair; and people you don’t know but must contend with cease to be human beings and start looking more like obstacles. Dirty, stinking, law-breaking and potentially lethal obstacles.

Then I started riding the bus.

And it was confirmed that many human beings are, indeed, dirty, stinking, law-breaking and potentially lethal obstacles.

And that many are not.

The man at the bus stop this morning, a man I’ve known by sight for seven years, a man who now requires an electric scooter and has a terrible hitch in his breathing, asked me smilingly, as we waited in the rain, if we were “having fun yet”.

“Fun is a relative term,” I shivered, my nyloned legs goose-pimpling.

Downtown twenty minutes later, I watched from my seat as this same man and his scooter were hydraulically lowered from the bus to the street. He ran his scooter up the block only to return to circle, again and again, a woman in a wheelchair, a woman who smiled and shouted something at him that I could not hear.

I watched from the warmth of the bus.


Downtown! For cryin’ out loud, look at all the people! People in wheelchairs, people with canes and dogs, tiny people and people who must be well over seven feet tall…

Drunk with people-watching, I have rediscovered my fascination with human beings, a fascination that had not long ago faced suffocation.

Take my recent foray into a downtown retail store. There is a man there every time I am there, a man with a determined face pushing what appears to be a tennis ball affixed to the end of what may be a broom handle, removing the scuff marks that a disrespectful shoe can leave on a shiny white floor.

From the looks of him, he is quite a bit younger than I am.

I stepped aside to let him finish, and he did. I smiled briefly at him, and he stared at me.

“Tho,” he says. “You been buthy thinth high thchool?”

Who, me?

Why yes. I guess I have been busy since high school.

And that’s when I realized I was having a nice day.

Which got me thinking: I’ll bet we’ve all been busy since high school. But how many of us recognize a nice day without it being pointed out?


Simply Suthern said...

I appreciate waking up every morn because it aint a given I will. I love the sunny days most but the rainy days are good too especially if they come with a bit of thunder and lightening attached. I try to keep things as simple as life allows but it seems I have become a high tech maintenance person. I wonder at times who was blessed more. Those of us with full cognition or those who were born ignorant of all the stresses that life offers.

Have a nice day!!!

Jodie Kash said...

Each morning I wake up and walk myself down the stairs is a good gee-dee day ;)

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

THAT was one of my favorite posts you have ever written and I read your stuff everyday. In fact I have no snarky comment or matching tale to tell. Good writing is good writing and that makes THIS a good day.

Sweet Cheeks said...

There is something to be said about the calm, cool, quiet of a cloudy day.


Happy Overworked Thursday!

Leeuna said...

Thanks for reminding me of what a good day this is. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing.

Yodood said...

Voinnegut's most endearing story os of his uncle who would announce his recognition of time it doesn't get better than. Thanks, Pearl — you are dear too.

Douglas said...

Ever since I decided not to die one day, most of my days have been nice indeed. Well, not counting that kneecap incident... and even that had moments of humor and incongruity which cheered me.

BrokenSilences said...

Very good post. This was a 'stop a moment and reflect the inner workings of your life' post and to be honest, I really needed to read this. I'm very much glad I clicked your 'follow' button.

Thanks for the insight, one never knows if, who or how one helps sometimes so I thought I'd let you know....

Becky Cazares said...

Love, love, love this post!

Pat said...

Ahh..This is a fantastically great post, Pearl. So many of the mentally handicapped people I have met have a sweetly sunny outlook on life. Thanks for this tribute to them.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

this definitely reminds me yet again to stop and smell the flowers! Thanks!

furiousBall said...

ever try to guess what people are thinking? like contribute your own dialogue to someone's life?

whenever i see a dude, i always tend to start with, "wow, i just ripped the nastiest fart on that lady's neck sitting on the bench."

why with the farts all the time with me?

Bee said...

Drunk with people-watching . . . me, too.

Sweet post.

Nuke Girl said...

All too rarely. And that's sad. I needed this post, thanks. :)

Bossy Betty said...

I think we should go people-watching together, Pearl! It IS a nice day, isn't it!

Loved your post.

mrwriteon said...

By golly, dear Pearl, that was positively inspiring. A healthy approach to a day and the people on this planet is so much better than a shitty one. Thanks for the reminder.

Hilary said...

You've just made my day a little better with this post. Thanks for that.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

That was delightful! Seems that you've rediscovered something wonderful, and now you've shared it, too.

GTChristie said...

I wandered in here randomly so this is the first post of yours I've read. The thought itself and your writing made me smile. People-watchers tend to be the most interesting people to read ... and to watch. So now that you have my attention: click. I'm following.

Tempo said...

..I've been busy since birth..and loving it!

Patricia said...

Nice post!

SparkleFarkle said...

I love this entry. Primo!

Pearl said...

Such lovely comments! Big smiles over here on my part. I tell myself that I write because I am compelled to, but honestly, the comments don't hurt. :-)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Your post made my heart very light today.
Totally my experience with a man named Bomber, a man named Frank and a woman named Sheila.

SweetPeaSurry said...

I love this post!!! I usually have a good day, today though, I'm having a painful day. 4 straight days on crutches is doing NOTHING for my back, or arm, or shoulder or hand pain ... nothing but adding to it that is!!!


Brenda said...

Its true, we often are too busy to realize what nice days we are having.

LadyFi said...

Enchanting post... all we have to do is open our eyes to see the special magic of every day.. Cheesy, I know, but true! ;-)

slommler said...

So true! It is all how you look at it, isn't it?
We have to remember to consciously stop for a moment and think about it...what a nice day this is!
Congrats on your POTW

Cricket said...

A wonderful post. Congratulations on the potw.

It's funny. I'm not particularly outgoing. Neither am I all that friendly-looking. I think it's from years of bad teeth. I never used to smile much because of that. They were a bit embarrassing, and often hurt. They're mostly fixed now, but habits die hard. Even my wife of 11 years still asks me what's wrong when I'm just sitting there. Nothing, dear... just my face.

Anyway, despite all that, I'm a "crazy-magnet." Random folk seem to gravitate to me, looking for conversation. They seem to sense that I will hang out with them for a while. They're right. "Normal" people can be annoying, but these folk invariably add interest to my day.

So I read somewhere that American Indians, or at least some tribes, looked at the "handicapped" as special gifts from God: sent to teach valuable lessons. They were accorded a special, honored place in society. They were marked by their difference not as less, but more, or at least, they were considered important.

I think they were right.

Thanks for a thought provoking post.

Land of shimp said...

Congratulations on the post of the week mention over at Hilary's :-) What a lovely post it is.

I do like the way you look at the world, and I am grateful that you share the view.

It is a thing peculiar to human nature, that we look at things first to see what they are not, rather than what they are. We are always measuring what more we need, what we may lack, what we wish we had rather than seeing what it is we do.

The fact of the matter is, if you have a body that works, you have blessings beyond the telling of it. I got lucky when I was 27 and had a car accident that landed me in a wheelchair for close to five months (just waiting for bones to heal, I'm fine)...and since then, I've never really taken a step that didn't hurt just a little bit. Just a little bit, something that is something I am so used to, I don't even given it any thought. It's just a tiny bit of pain where something effortless used to be.

And I'm so grateful that happened to me because ever since I have been mindful : whatever it is you are taking for granted right now could be gone in a moment. I never was grateful for walking without an sense of it being a bit of a struggle, until it was gone. I walk just fine, don't mistake me, but I'll never take it for granted again.

There's a lot of value in being content, isn't there? Smart is great, witty is nice to be around, but kindness has value without measure.

Dianne said...

oh what a wonderful way to describe being in the moment

congrats on POTW

Joanna Jenkins said...

Aww Pearl, this is a wonderful post that has me smiling and feeling like I'm having a good day :-)

Congrats on your POTW mention from Hilary!

Suldog said...

Heck of a good post. And I hope you're having a very nice day as you read this :-)

June said...

Just today I was telling Trusted Friend how grateful I am for all that I have . . . not just My Stuff . . . but this whole world. If we'd only *see* we would realize that we really have to work at it not to have a nice day.

blunoz said...

Good point and great post. Congrats on POTW!

Brian Miller said...

what a fantastic post pearl...i am a people watcher so i loved every minute of it. these are my kinda people. smiles.

congrats on the POTW!