“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Watching people move in society can be something that can either amuse or depress. Watching an old man help his wife across a busy parking lot leading her by the nook in her elbow to get into the grocery store instills hope in us that there really is a hope for true love. The younger generation driving a car they didn’t pay for, spending money they didn’t earn, and not paying attention to where they’re going and almost wipes out the old couple gives us a bitter taste of a society that doesn’t care about others. The mother that selflessly gives every moment of her life to make sure her children grow up proper and polite gives us hope for a kinder future. The man selling his food stamps in the parking lot to go buy beer and smokes makes us doubt there is really any good in the world.
Intentions are always misconstrued, of course, and even though you’re watching and taking an assessment of a situation, you really don’t know what is going on with those people. It’s very possible that old man has lost several wives and the one he’s helping across the parking lot is his fourth wife. The sorrow he has gone through losing the one he loves over and over again shows on his face. What you saw as a sweet emotion of love is actually years of pain of loss. Although the wife doesn’t know it, the old man keeps a strong facade to make her life easier. He weeps in the morning while shaving, and he never drinks a cup of coffee without thinking about the way the one he truly love and he sipped coffee on a crisp spring morning when he proposed to her decades ago. Living in pain every day, he hold his head up, but longs for a time long past.
The younger person (gender doesn’t really matter), although they don’t seem to be paying attention, really isn’t trying to be reckless. That young person, running errands for their parents who have beaten them since they were a very small child. Lacking a spine, lacking esteem, and never feeling like they were good enough zones out as they dream about a life without being a punching bag for two emotionally unstable parent. The younger person drives this car, that the parents gave to them as a “hush gift”, to keep them from going to DSS and reporting the abuse. The young person faithfully takes their ADHD medicine every day because the last time they went to the doctor pills were pushed in their direction because that’s always the answer to slacking grades. The young person, getting a small taste of freedom every time they leave the house dreams of running away, only to go back to the abuse they are used to. Their future is going to be littered with broken dreams and even more broken hearts.
The mother, shuffling her children from car seats to strollers, to carts keeps a smile on her face and children happy. She appears to be on top of the world. A shiny, big old SUV with a stick figure family on the back window indicates that financial problems don’t seem to effect this happy little family. The children are dressed smart, and the mother wears practical shoes, yoga pants, but has perfect makeup. She breezes through the grocery store parking lot like a newspaper caught up in the draft of a passing car and keeps her chin high. Designer purse on her arm, she has everything, including a husband that cheats on her with his secretary. Never would she let on that anything was wrong to anyone, if this sort of thing leaked out in their social circles she would be absolutely devastated, embarrassed, ashamed. Therapy doesn’t help, the husband is unhappy, the wife is unhappy, they lead their phony life day in and day out. She has no choice to accept that her life is full of lies and heartbreak. She plans on a future of the children growing up in a “non-broken” home and giving her grandchildren that will dote affection on her. She focuses on the future, she focuses on anything but the pain and heartbreak she’s facing.
The man selling his food stamps in the parking lot slowly smokes a cigarette in an old pickup truck that has been rusting out for almost a decade. The truck shows signs of being used for work, hard work, for years. The truck looks as though it has never been washed, and the man looks as if he hasn’t been washed for weeks either. The man is hollow, with sunken cheeks that enhance a jutting cheek bone that accentuates his yellowing grey eyes. He listens to a talk radio station talking of the declining housing market in the area and how it shows no sign of improvement. He shakes his head and takes another long drag from his smoke. After the market collapsed he lost his home, and had no place to go. Without money and without a source of income he had no choice but to adopt a lifestyle of living in his truck. His pride was shot, his heart ached for the days he could wake up and go to a job that feed his family. There wasn’t a future for him, or at least he didn’t see one. Selling his food stamps gave him money to buy beer to help him dull the pain and gas money to keep moving his truck from one parking lot to another. It was a cyclic life, but he never gave up.
The exterior of peoples live can be very deceiving, especially if we walk around in this world with our hearts on our sleeves and judgement in our hearts. I hurt, I cry, I have feelings, but I’m not going to project them to the world around me. I could keep my head down and focus on the pain that I have, but that wouldn’t help. If I could walk around with a whiteboard, if we could all walk around with a white board, in which we could write what we’re feeling how would the public respond. If I were to say I lost my job, would somebody, a total stranger, go out of their way to help me? If I were to walk around with my board saying my heart was broken, would anybody step aside and give me a hug? If I were to walk around and say I’m battered, shattered and lost, would anybody step aside and help lead me in the right direction?
“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.”
George Bernard Shaw
The skepticism in me comes from the fact that I guess sometimes I feel like I bleed in the streets but go unnoticed. At the same time, there are so many other people bleeding in the street that hide it. Are people actually happy in their misery? Do they embed themselves in a lifestyle of unsustainable emotions and pain just because it’s easier than trying to change? People who believe in something actually have hope, they have a sight for a future, they have vision. Those that are skeptical of a future bleed quietly and don’t reach out. The drunken man dulls his pain, but never actually alleviates the initial would of what the pain is coming from. No drunken person is actually happy, it’s a cry for help, it’s a cry for help healing a pain.The fake happiness that is purveyed by the jolly drunk is actually a hopeless, helpless, wounded soul in need of somebody to help guide.them.
I curl up in a ball here in a bed, with a stuffed bumble bee and lick my wounds. Four o’clock in the morning, for the second night in a row, my mind have brought me to be wide awake at this forsaken hour of the night. Quiet surrounds me, the hum of the laptop fan and the pounding of the keyboard are my music and the faint light that spills from the screen illuminates the world around me. To me it’s pathetic, but I’m not a skeptic, I do have a future…I just don’t know what it is yet. I’ll keep pushing, but I’ll keep looking deeper into those “people” in the parking lot.
“Everyone smiles with an invisible gun to their heads” -Chuck Pala…ehh…you know the guy.