My little brother stayed with me for the weekend while my parents were traveling and he decided he wanted donuts for breakfast on Sunday morning.
“Ok” I thought, “I’m gonna go all out and get a DOZEN because if I’m gonna eat donuts on a diet I might as well go crazy with it”. Mind you it’s just my brother, myself and my husband at the house.
So I made up my mind and set off down the road. I was at a stop light when I caught a glimpse of a man to my right, barely visible, sitting on a grassy bank in the woods, hands cupped over his mouth trying to light a cigarette. He looked so peaceful with the morning sun filtering through the branches, casting an amber glow on everything it touched. He almost looked like he belonged there, like a buck grazing in the grass.
I immediately knew that I didn’t need to buy 12 fucking donuts. Just because I could afford to over indulge didn’t mean it was the right thing to do. Not only for the sake of my health but because I have more than I’ll ever need and the guilt of my own greed weighed on my chest.
I got my brother the chocolate donuts he asked for, his orange juice and a small iced coffee for myself. I then ordered a bacon, egg & cheese bagel with another orange juice. On my way back home I pulled over and trekked through the woods to find the man I saw earlier.
The man looked like he could be in his fifties, his hair was thinning on top but long and wispy by his neck. His face was gaunt with pointed features and deep set eyes. The man was resting on a dingy quilt with just a shirt and pants, no shoes or socks. Everything he owned was strewn around him, a few extra pieces of clothing lay in piles but mostly he was surrounded by trash. The whizzing cars on the highway and the chirping of cicadas masked the sound of my foot steps.
“Excuse me”, I called out. No response.
“Excuse me!”, I repeated a little louder this time. I stepped on an empty Deer Park bottle which crackled loudly in protest.
Alerted by the sound, the man turned his head. The confused and apprehensive look on his face, grew more and more cautious as I drew closer to his resting place. I placed my feet carefully as not to step on anymore trash.
“I brought you some breakfast”, I chirped while extending the bagel sandwich and gleaming bottle of orange juice in his direction.
Pure shock and happiness sprung to his face as he reached for the food. He proclaimed his thanks to God and then thanked me deeply – I felt my heart swell.
“I wish I had some money on me”, I murmured suddenly embarrassed that I didn’t have any cash in my wallet.
“No, no” he rasped, fervently shaking his head, “I don’t need any money”. He peered into the paper bag I handed him, prodding his finger around to get a better look.
His flat denial of needing any money caught me by surprise. It dawned on me just how important money is to me. All I do is work, sometimes over 40 hours a week in order to pay bills and afford life’s little luxuries. My husband and I sacrifice time with each other, our friends and families just to make money. We have everything we need and most of everything we want yet we constantly plan, budget and work to achieve ‘financial stability’. I gazed at this man without shelter, no worldly possessions, wearing rags and living in squalor who was happy just to receive a hot breakfast. I don’t mean to understate the levity of his situation but his appreciation for the little things was so pure that for an instant I envied him.
I wanted to let him enjoy his meal in peace. We exchanged pleasantries, I wished him a good day and made my way back to the road where my car waited for me with its flashing hazards. I said a prayer in his favor while I drove home, almost in tears of shame at how much I take for granted.
God continues to put people in my path who change my perspective, so many situations I have experienced over the years molded the woman I have become. Where I was once judgmental, I have become accepting. Where I was once self righteous, I have become open-minded. Where I was once greedy, I have become giving.
I don’t tell this story in need of recognition or validation, I tell this story to help you open your mind to the signs right in front of you. Everywhere there are opportunities to serve others, relinquish self centered behavior and honor your principles – you just have to look. Anything you go through can be resolved by helping someone out of their dilemma because it really puts your own into perspective. You don’t have to believe in God or be religious, you just need to nurture the part of you that is selfless.
Thanks for reading,
Until next time