Is there any use or purpose in me ranting and just vomiting out whatever words pop into my head? Lots of words, thoughts and ideas fly in and out of my head in any given minute. Sometimes those thoughts are wise and pure. Sometimes they are dark and scary. A wise person once told me that we all have thoughts that don’t seem like our thoughts. The key is to acknowledge the thought and let it pass – just don’t let it set up camp. Hold captive the thoughts that are wise and pure – give them squatter’s rights. Kick out the ones that are negative and evil.
Evil – there’s a word that’s been thrown around a lot the last several months. I sit on my back porch listening to the birds chirp and the distant traffic go by. Dragon flies buzz around me and an occasional jack rabbit catches my eye in the distance. The neighborhood boys are riding their bikes and building jumps out of scrap lumber and junk tires. I can’t imagine anything even remotely close to evil invading my space. Am I lucky or am I ignorant?
I spent a few days in July in downtown Denver visiting my daughter and going to my high school reunion. I stayed in a hotel on the 16th street mall – in the heart of downtown, and then with my daughter in her apartment, also downtown. I walked from my hotel to her apartment one morning – past the capitol building and a big city park. There were people of every race, color, gender, and social status. There were well-dressed business men and women, purposely making their way to the coffee shop on the way to their next meeting. There were tourists taking pictures of the public pianos on the mall – while a homeless man gently played the keys he remembered from his distant youth and the piano lessons he took. An older man called out to me, “Everyone needs a balloon”. I agreed with him. “There is something about a balloon that makes you smile”. I chatted with him for awhile and walked away with a blue balloon dog. He was a couple dollars richer, and a little closer to his dream of funding the cure for cancer. There were people huddled around a table on the corner of Broadway and 17th filling out papers for a free phone. There were people lying on cardboard boxes and eating whatever treasures they had found in the trash can the night before. There were couples holding hands, laughing and talking to each other. There were couples looking at their phones and completely unaware of each other. They were straight and gay, old and young, rich and poor, and every color of the rainbow.
I loved the experience. I loved the diversity.
But to be honest, there were times I felt uncomfortable or at least out of my element. I didn’t feel uncomfortable in Peet’s ordering my coffee from the dark chocolate-skinned barista while the white-haired Delta pilot ate his oatmeal and read the news on his laptop. I did feel uncomfortable walking by the park filled with homeless people – young adults, middle aged white men, older black men…mostly men, now that I think about it. I felt fine chatting with the shabbily dressed white woman who was making her hard-headed pit bull lay down until he could behave. I was also completely comfortable petting and loving on the pooch. I did not feel fine walking past the three black men sitting on the church stoop, so I crossed over a block early.
I know there’s nothing wrong with keeping myself safe, especially as a woman walking alone, not only in a city, but anywhere.
I know I can’t walk around this life filled with fear.
I want to walk through this life without those feelings of uneasiness…that catch in my chest of nerves and anxiety…and to just reach out and enjoy the differences in our humanity.
2 thoughts on “Love Your Neighbor”
Loving the sentiment Angela – especially if they are runners – right ? Keep up the good work 😉
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Beautiful worded. Even though I have never been to Denver, I could feel that I was right there through your words. And Denver can represent any city with the diversity as you described. I am a country person, and Toronto is the nearest city, but I stay away because I am so out of my element there. It is wonderful to see the diversity, and Toronto generally is safe when compared to some world cities, but as an almost 60 year old uncomfortable in the big city, I would stand out like a sore thumb. It makes me very vulnerable. Really appreciated the words you shared! 🙂
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