For a few days now, I’ve been a bit down, irritated and confused. I’d been feeling remarkably calm for weeks, so this mood hit me somewhat unexpectedly. The realization that all the polarities, the dark and the light, that exist in us have been magnified and have grown exponentially. Like the corona curve.
This morning, in an attempt to lift my spirits, I left my house for the first time in a few days and made my way outside to get some groceries. A bit more at peace with mySelf, carrying a bag full of fresh fruit and veg, I noticed an elderly gentleman walking towards me. He was wearing a yellow sleeve indicating he was blind. In a quiet voice, he addressed me “Excuse me, may I ask you something?” “Of course you may!” I replied. “There used to be a bus stop here. Is that still nearby?” he asked. Indeed, there used to be a bus stop where we stood but due to construction works, it had been moved. I offered to walk with him to the next bus stop.
Thus unfolded one of the most touching encounters I’ve ever had with a stranger.
As we started walking, I asked him whether he was taken care of and being cared for. He confirmed and shared with me how he was stuffing himself with hash browns until “they came out of his ears” and we both laughed.
And then the conversation took a beautiful and deep turn.
In his soft voice, choosing each work carefully, he said “You know, I’m looking forward to dying. I’m not worried at all! Because I know I won’t be leaving. I’ll be arriving somewhere else. I’ll be closer to God! And I’m so grateful for all I’ve experienced, and for the life I’ve lived.”
I said “That’s reassuring to hear. Funny enough, I had that same thought just yesterday. If today were my last day, I’d be grateful and bowing out gracefully. It’s been quite the ride!” I asked him whether he felt he’d lived a full life which he confirmed with a full heart and big smile. I felt so touched by his answer that the next question left my mouth without thinking and I heard mySelf say “Have you always felt like that and if not, what brought about this perspective on life?”
“Well, I got sick. Illness is what did it. When I was young, you know, I thought life was just about… please excuse my language…. eating, drinking and fxxxing. I started to gradually lose my eyesight when I was only 17. That taught me a lot.”
I shared with him that I, too, had experienced severe illness and how that experience had re-shaped my view on life, on who and what we are. On our essence.
He said “Do you believe in re-incarnation?”
“I most certainly do. I’ve had quite significant experiences that make me know that it is so.” I answered.
“Yes. I know what you are talking about.” He replied. “It is about awareness, about our unity. With the essence of ….. you know, who we are… I suffer from loss of words so I can’t express exactly what I want to tell you, but….” His voice trailed off as he struggled to find words for the vast and profound truth he wanted to wrap into suitable language.
“I can hear your words even without you saying them” I told him. And I wasn’t lying. I felt so clearly what he wanted to express.
We reached the bus stop and I told him I’d wait with him until his bus arrived. He apologized for inconveniencing me. I told him he had no idea what a gift this conversation was for me and how happy it made me to talk to him.
Before the bus appeared around the corner, I confided in him that I used to be quite arrogant towards life. And that those knocks I’d received had deeply humbled and softened me towards it all. As I said the words to him, he nodded and exclaimed “How true! That’s hitting the nail on the head!”.
We thanked each other for the beautiful conversation and as he stepped onto the bus and the doors closed behind him, I realized my irritation that had been with me for days had dissolved.
Sometimes it’s a brief moment in time that has the power to change the trajectory of your day. Or your life.