Sometimes I think small flickers of time and chance actually become bigger, longer seconds. Those are probably some of the only times I feel like I understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Which, I know I really do not, but when literal seconds breathe longer – I feel like I do.
He was standing by the bus stop and I knew I had to walk past him. I was late. My heart races and ticks with the second hand when I am late. I hate the reminding pulse and pressure of hustle. I thought to myself, “just smile and keep walking…he may ask for money, but just keep walking.” I’ve been approached and asked a few times at this stop. Amidst my self -imposed race, I nagged at myself for parking here yet again. But really, I didn’t want to walk past him with my painted lips, pencil skirt, and shoes that beat the female cadence along the sidewalk. I felt my material abundance made his lack more apparent. It all felt a bit ridiculous at the moment. And I was walking into church. Holiness. Worship. I judged his thoughts. His supposed words of my “holiness” as I walked past his obvious need.
But the thing about thinking you know what someone is thinking, is you’re assuming you know who they are. And I didn’t. How could I? Maybe unconsciously, but arrogantly nonetheless, I thought I knew his type.
I hopped out of the car and walked as fast as I could. He turned in rhythm with the noise of my shoes and smiled. As the moment expanded and his eyes shined, he said, “what a beautiful smile!” And it was not creepy, and he didn’t want a thing. He commented on my stone necklace and asked if I made it.
His tone was genuine, his voice was grounded, and I felt the gravity of my distortion between space, time, and judgment.
He had grey sweats on. Oxygen snaked up his nose and tethered him to his spot. He had a calm presence. I smiled and talked for seconds then started on my way, when he quietly shouted, “keep being happy”. He thinks I’m happy I thought. I’m glad he felt I was happy around him.
He asked for nothing. He gave to me. He assumed nothing and I assumed everything.
While this was only a moment, a brief sketch or facet of his character revealed truth. I felt his aspect of consideration and acceptance if only for an instant. In my rush and chaotic mental to do list for the week I thought this was one more small hurdle, but his words brought perspective and briefly grounded me. As I walked away I felt happy. I felt of his warmth and I wanted to turn around and say, where are you going? Who are you? Do you have a family who loves you? Why do you need oxygen? But I kept moving and time raced on.
But I could have stayed there a while.