Wednesday, March 14, 2007

day two: crossing the street

I start to wonder, already, if this can be done. Am I meddling, am I interfering? I am not aggressive or assertive. I am not good at this. I once rode a train with a good friend. The car was crowded and we stood. My friend tapped the shoulder of a young seated man, and, when he looked up, urgently pointed out an elderly man who was standing. Without words, the young man stood and offered his seat. That was the magic of my friend.

I don’t know if I could do that. I worry. Sometimes when I open my mouth, no sounds come out. Yesterday, I tried to give my seat away, but he didn’t look at me. I touched his arm gently, but he didn’t notice. Are there enough people that I can try to help a stranger every day? Yes. Being the city in which we live, oh yes. The problem is speaking up about it.

But as I stood on the street corner, a voice said behind me, I need help, please.

There was a man my father’s age, with his eyes shut tight, holding a cane. He was blind.

We don’t ask. I don’t ask. Most of the time, with my own disability, I don’t know to ask because I don’t realize I missed anything. I didn’t hear it. I ask, what? but only so many times. Then I feel embarrassed. Then I try to make the connections in my head. I have gotten to used to it, supplying my narrative.

I stop asking. This man asked.

We crossed the street, and then he said thank you and left. I worried as I watched him round the corner. I worry still. Asking is the hard part, speaking up, admitting. And then there’s another hard part, the letting go, the moving on, the faith, the trust that he will find his way with the next crossing and the next.