Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Has everyone been given the same opportunities?

I was driving through the Holland tunnel yesterday and just happened to notice a lady walking with a cane and a tin can as she asked people in cars for money in the pouring rain. I guess I’m not sure why I noticed her as I see people like her all the time. I want to give to them but then wonder where to draw the line? One time I drove up to a man with a sign that said, “Will work for food” and gave him a tray of twice baked potatoes. He didn’t seem to be thrilled with the potatoes but I didn’t have a job to offer him. Not to mention the fact that I wasn’t exactly sure what his skill set was. He seemed to be strong in the “holding a sign and standing in front of people going about their business department” though. I have to suspect that this may actually be his job… What was the deal with this lady with a cane though? I wondered if people’s luck is predetermined or if we all get the same set of opportunities that we either know how to use or not? If I had been given her set of circumstances, would my body be breaking down to the point of walking with a limp and needing a cane, or is her life just harder than mine? The truth is that I’m really not sure what the answer to that question is but I’m not afraid to acknowledge that I have caught a few breaks in my lifetime! We have to run the balance between feeling really bad for these people and becoming completely numb to them. I don’t like the fact that I have to ignore them at my window. I don’t like the fact that I’ve been frustrated with a bad hair day while people are standing in the pouring rain just doing their best to stay alive in the elements. I don’t like the fact that the man didn’t say thank you that day when I gave him my family’s dinner…

I try to remember to be grateful for the lucky breaks I’ve been given but I also remember having to work for many of the opportunities I have been so luckily “given”. I went to college. I practiced my instruments. I did my homework. I got a job and when it was no longer the job I was happy in, I did what I needed to do to develop the skills necessary to get a new one that I would be happier in…No- I wasn’t brought up in poverty but we weren’t rich either. As a matter of fact, by today’s standards, what my parents supported 5 children on would be considered poverty. We still lived in the happiest, most beautiful house anyone could ever ask for. I guess it’s all how it’s presented to us. When I look at things, I see the possibilities in them and have been given the problem solving skills to be able to figure out what I need to do to change my current circumstances if I want to. When someone standing on the street corner holding a sign looks at what their life has become, do they sit in realization that it is what it is, or have they ever been taught to make a mental note of how they want it to be and how to get there?

Mental note:

  • Acknowledge what I have in this moment!

  • Recognize what I can learn from the people who come into my environment. Why take life for granted, as there is always somewhere to go!