Edgar A. Guest:
You are the person who has to decide. Whether you’ll do it or toss it aside; you are the person who makes up your mind. Whether you’ll lead or will linger behind. Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar. Or just be contented to stay where you are.
I was walking home from work today and decided to turn off my iPod. I’m still not exactly sure why, I listen to it to and from work everyday, from music, books to podcasts, my mom would say that I do it to give my brain a bit of a break from the piñata of ideas it usually is. Today was different, I had a feeling of being ‘checked out’ of everyday happenings and wanted to hear the world around me, notice things, one might say be a little more present than I have been being.
The first think I noticed were two distinct smells. The heavy grain smell coming from Molson’s coupled with the salty fresh ocean, which (contrary to what you might think) produced a gag-sandwich (as my niece would say) which almost lost me my lunch. Regardless I still noticed it and was a little uneasy (and relieved) knowing that I had never really noticed this smell before but had walked this route at this time for months. The second thing I noticed was the power of eye contact, I smiled at people passing me by, acknowledging them with a ‘Good Afternoon’ or a ‘Hey how are ya?’. Most didn’t respond, some smiled, others probably thought I was on something, which I always think is amusing and sad. (The joke was on them. I was onto something bigger than I ever expected). My last little gem was in the final stretch to my place, I sometimes take the seawall but after the earlier ‘beer meets ocean’ scent (that will never be a perfume), I decided to take Davie Street. I walked for about 2 minutes when a homeless man stopped me to compliment my long board I was carrying. I should preface this by telling you that this was not the first time I had seen this young man. He sits on the corner here in front of Celebrities everyday (with his dog) and head buried in a book. I often glance over his shoulder and notice a quick line or title to see what adventure he is on that day. Today was Huckleberry Finn (a personal favorite). I replied with a ‘thanks’ and a smile and continued on my way. I think I took two steps and thought, Hey I have a $10 gift certificate for Book Warehouse in my pack. So without thinking I rifled through my pack (for those of you that know me I could probably survive for a year on what I have in there…so this took a moment), and there it was. I walked back and squatted down beside him and handed him the gift certificate and told him that I wanted him to use it to choose a book. He looked at me and paused. A tear came to his eye and he said something I will never forget…I have never gotten to choose before. People hand me their old books, I find them in the trash…but I’ve never got to choose. Thank you..you don’t know what it means to get to choose.
This moment humbled me to the point where I had instantly became this teary-eyed-smiling mess. I can’t describe the feeling I felt as I shook his hand, gave his dog a rub and continued my journey home. All I know is that life gives me these little reminders some days and this was one of them. The value of making choices isn’t something we should ever take for granted. Make decisions carefully, value yourself, value your body and always show gratitude. Life is a much more beautiful trip this way.