I see him often. Not every day, but just about. An older man by appearance, but it’s really hard to say. He is severely disabled, listing to one side as he shuffles down the river path, barely lifting his feet off of the ground. His speech is nearly unintelligible, but I make out enough to know he is saying good morning when he greets me. As for his smile, it is in perfect working order. I’m not sure what his cross to bear stems from. It doesn’t matter. I admire that as difficult as walking is for him, he seems to take pleasure in doing so anyway.
Usually when I see him, he is headed north and I am headed south (or maybe it’s the opposite. I’m not sure. My sense of direction is practically nil.) Today, though, I am out a bit later, and he is ahead of me, though as he pauses to rest, he turns his head and catches sight of me, wagging his arm in an awkward wave. And he is smiling.
As I prepare to pass him by, rabbit fast outpacing tortoise, he says good morning and I wish him the same. But then, unexpectedly, and with strength I’d never guessed he had, he grabs my arm and pulls me into a tight hug, burying his face in my hair and kissing the side of my head.
Yes. Hell yes. I am more than a little taken aback. But I calmly say bless you, extracting myself and patting him on the arm before I walk away.
And instantly I hear a reprimanding voice inside my head. Not mine. Someone I wanted to trust. Should have been able to trust. (Appearances are so deceiving.)
With the warning I’ve heard before.
See? I told you so. You act way too nice, and this is what happens.
I don’t know what to say, except I guess I have to agree. It’s true. I am nice. I try to show kindness whenever I can. Because I’ve felt the pain of nothingness and I know there are people out there who desperately need to feel they are something. And (I exercise caution, yes.) there may be hazards. I might, on occasion, get hugged. I can live with that.
You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean in a drop.
I’m taking a break from zip codes today…