Last week, life almost softly killed me, more specifically, the sweet man on the corner. It was perfect that he didn’t have all of his teeth and his head wobbled, because love-beams shot out of his smile like light through a pinhole camera. Standing in front of him felt like a darshan blessing. He was selling wall calendars for $20, photographs of the local neighbourhood. He got to keep $10 of every sale. The entrepreneur in me approved.
After my son and I walked away with our calendar, we stood at the corner waiting for the light to change. Hot tears rolled into my favourite scarf. I was grateful that I had $20 to spend without a second thought; that I had a warm house nearby; that we were having salmon for dinner—with friends; and that my kid was holding my hand at that moment, even though he doesn’t let me do that on the way to school anymore.
My boy looked up at me, with pride, his eyes saying to me, “Oh mom, I love that you feel things.” He did not say, “It’s okay, the man will be okay.” Because we both knew he may not be very okay. And he did not say, “You’ll be fine, don’t cry,” because he knows that I am much more than fine and that I cry all the time on street corners because of all the things that softly kill me.
Next was the mom struggling to open the door to the fish shop with her baby strapped to her chest and plastic grocery bags twisting in the dog’s leash. We held the door for her. Ecstasy. Back at home there was that video, again, of the Syrian toddler’s dead body washing up on shore. This is hell. And then came the $1 million dollars raised in just two days for those refugees, because some writers with healthy Facebook pages thought, “Enough. We can do something.” So they did. Ecstasy.
Then I was talking to a friend about the shut-ins, the people dying of white bread consumption and loneliness. My friend spent all of the holidays delivering meals because everyone else was busy eating with their families. Agony. Relief. Not easy. Hope.
The hate. All the hate. It makes me fume and spin.
The light. Oh the light! The light that is powerful enough to transmute hate into Love. “T’was blind, now I see.” That kind of light.
Pain/joy. Helplessness/so very helpful. Crisis/calm beauty… It softly kills me to openness. And I think that because I am willing to be slayed in that way, then the gratitude floods in. The gratitude for all I have—for what I can do. From day to day, to day.