I Saw An Old Man

detail of painting, m/m

I guess I could be called a mall rat these last few weeks.

It intrigues me to watch; watch humanity being human.

Today I saw an old man. H was resolutely pushing an empty shopping cart for stability.

He walked slowly but he had some sass inside his wrinkly and frail self as I witnessed him cutting between empty tables in figure eights.

Every now and then he would stop to take a pill.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him for some reason.

“Give him something.” I heard this in my head.

and again: “Give him something.”

How weird… such a strong impetus to act and a somewhat unusual request I thought.

Well… I felt inspired to go home and do my own exercises after seeing him..too alone, exerting himself beyond what he could comfortably do, got all dressed in clean clothes and got himself out there in the world to choose life one more time.

I rolled over to him and said: “Sir- you are really covering some ground here and you inspired me to go home and exercise.”

He looked alarmed and dismissive as he cupped his ear and shook his head and moved on. He was deaf. Too deaf to understand my words.

I felt his solitary courage so deeply that my heart almost cracked.

Where did this empathy come from in me?

I didn’t used to care. Went about my days like a giant sucker- feeding on life with the intent of plumping myself up.

That man was a pathetic nuisance not too long ago.

Today he is my teacher.

Do we all have to break in order to feel ourselves in one another?


3 Responses to “I Saw An Old Man”

  1. Alexandra Eldridge on September 19th, 2014

    Wow, again and again! xxxx

  2. KK on September 19th, 2014

    I, too, used to try to look the other way, even cross the street when someone very “different” or in a wheelchair approached. I told myself it was because I didn’t want to embarrass the other person by staring. Now I realize it just made me uncomfortable because I was scared. I’m so glad now whenever I meet someone who looks directly at me, acknowledges my being, and relates beyond their own discomfort. Thank you, Cathy.

  3. Jenny on September 19th, 2014

    I hope you have the chance to smile with him again. Deafness is one of the most isolating things. Maybe he will soften when is not startled but recognises you. He will never believe that he could inspire someone. Wonder about his huge life story?

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