I feel pretty blessed to have such a great community of friends. Lately though, there has been a lot of negativity and general dismay. It made me think of a story that affected my life forever and I want to tell it. No, it’s not a race report, but it’s my blog so I can get serious if I want to.
Three or four years ago I was getting ready to leave work. Winter had set in and I was bundling up, preparing for a crowded subway ride home. My mind was racing and I had to sit back down. The racing was more like a headache, creating a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and it had been there all day.
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say I had gotten myself into a boatload of financial trouble rather quickly. No, the mob wasn’t involved but it was still very stressful, especially for someone who likes to have his ‘ducks in a row’.
Leaving work and heading East across 53rd Street it was particularly cold and windy, the kind of weather that ironically burns so to speak. My mind was also burning for a solution to my problem. I felt like crying, like moving away and starting all over. Had New York City finally gotten to me 10 years later?
The Subway, although a shelter from the cold, was no treat on a night like tonight. Anyone who even considered walking home didn’t due to the frigid weather. The 6 Train was packed, not the kind of packed you get every day, but the kind where you don’t even need to hold onto the pole for stability. It quickly went from cold to hot and I wished I had the space to unbutton my overcoat. We slowly clicked forward, everyone doing their best to maintain some sort of composure. “Should I sell some of my things? How will I pay rent? Maybe take a night job?” I was somewhere else.
A few stops in a faint sound came to my attention. ‘Clang!’ ‘Scraaaaaape.’ ‘Clang!’ ‘Scraaaaaape.’ It was coming from the far end of the car. People on that end were shifting around and looking a bit startled. I went back to stressing out, but the sound was getting louder. ‘Clang!’ ‘Scraaaaape.’ ‘Clang!’ ‘Scraaaaape.’ People in the middle of the car were now sidestepping, still I could not see who was passing through the car. At one point I thought, “Who on earth would try and navigate through this crowded train? Seriously!”
Finally, a sight I will never forget, came into view. As I stood there, in my suit and overcoat heading to my apartment worrying about some financial troubles, a blind man with no legs was pushing a coffee tin full of change down the center of the train. He had a bandana covering his eyes, and as he swung his torso he supported himself with only his arms. His hands, dirty, were wrapped in strips of cloth to protect them. The entire car fell silent. ‘Clang!’ ‘Scraaaaape.’ ‘Clang!’ ‘Scraaaaape.’ I reached into my pocket for any money I had and put it in his tin pail. My mood quickly changed.
Exiting my stop and continuing on I almost broke into tears on the street. As I walked toward my warm apartment and my warm bed, hot food waiting to be prepared, I worried about something so trivial.
It reminded me of a quote I read, excuse me if it’s not exact, “No matter how great your problems may seem, there will always be someone else with greater problems.”
New York City and its neighboring lands were devastated by Hurricane Sandy this year, some harder than others. Let us also not forget, many people all over the world have it pretty rough. Donate just $10 (or more) to Red Cross for Sandy victims, $10 to save a rainforest, or $10 for Lymphoma research (a cause dear to my heart) or just remember them this month in a toast.
What am I thankful for on this Thanksgiving? I was blessed with two strong legs that carry me swiftly across the land. I can run.