Then there are the "if only's"--"If only I were born in a different time." "If only I were taller...shorter...younger...older." "If only I had married that first person, or waited to get married later."
Well, you were born when you were born, you are as tall, short, fat, thin, young, old, and married to whomever you are married to. What are you going to do about it?
This lesson was brought home to me on a recent Monday. I saw the man sitting there at the corner waiting to cross the street. Actually I had seen him a few times before. I drive through this intersection nearly everyday. Every time I see him I think, "I should pull over and help him." But I didn't. That is, until this particular day.
What made me think he even needed my help? He looked frail to me. I have seen him cross after passing him by; he moved slowly, and he was in a wheelchair. I had been disappointed in myself lately because I usually listen to that inner voice the first time without hesitation.
It wasn't until today that I realized I was supposed to wait. I needed this guy more than he needed me.
There is conflict in my life right now. A battle is going on, not only in my mind, but in my heart. I have tried to understand, make excuses, forgive someone, but I am failing. Because people are so important to me, when I can't resolve a relationship, I see it as my own fault. My thinking goes, "Maybe you aren't doing your job. Maybe you aren't trying hard enough." I question "me."
Anyway, there he was again. Waiting at the corner. This time the voice said strongly, "Help him!"
I pulled off the road, got out of my car, and rushed to his side. "My friend, can I help you get across?"
He was slightly slumped forward. His hands were covered by gloves, the fingertips cut off revealing his rough, calloused skin and unusually long nails.
He turned towards me and said, "Now you made me miss the light!" Sure enough, the light had changed and the traffic started moving.
"I'm sorry!" I said, and then went on to explain that I had seen him there before and wanted to stop to help him.
"Not necessary," he said. "I do quite well on my own."
Okay, now I felt awkward and rejected in addition to my already confused self-image.
"Oh, fine. I just..."
"Come on, it's my turn. I'll help you," he said, interrupting me.
I stood there embarrassed, not knowing what to do.
"Come on, if you're coming!" he shouted, and before I realized it, he was halfway across the street. I rushed to catch up, and grabbing the wheelchair handles, I heard him say, "No, don't push."
We walked the rest of the way, and when he came to a stop, he turned and said, "Don't feel sorry for me."
"Well, it's not that I was feeling sorry for you..."
"Yes, you were," he replied. "Or maybe you were feeling sorry for yourself?"
That hit me.
He motioned with his hand to come closer. I bent towards him, and he placed his hand on my shoulder. "This happened to me when I was in my 50's," he said. "It hit me hard. I hated self-pity, but I hated anyone's pity even more. One day, after questioning myself for weeks, I came to a simple conclusion."
He then reached into his shirt pocket. It was stuffed with paper, a pocket protector, and four pens. Flipping through a few pages of a small spiral notebook, he came to a blank page. With the click of his pen, he scribbled a few letters and handed it to me.
"Here's your lesson for today. Thanks for stopping. Just wave next time." Then off he went.
I took the slightly crumpled paper and opening it found this: "OK2BMe"
I smiled as I saw him disappear around the corner. Maybe if I had stopped the first time I saw him, I wouldn't have been so hard on myself lately. Next time I won't feel so bad passing him by. I'll just wave. It's "OK 2BME."