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"An empty plastic bottle lies on the sidewalk...."

 Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter...."

An empty plastic bottle lies on the sidewalk. The sidewalk isn’t very clean to begin with.... It is strewn with fallen leaves and a couple pieces of trash. A little piece down from where I am standing is occupied by a what looks to be a homeless man lying down, with whatever small possessions he has wrapped in a plastic bag sitting beside him. His clothes are in tatters....and looks like they haven't been washed in days...maybe even weeks. He sits on the cold bare ground and his only companions are the annoying flies, hungry mosquitoes, and the cold that surrounds him. He has no coat on his skinny frame and I shiver for him because even with my thick coat on...I am cold.  He has long hair and a wild unkept beard. Yet he sits with a peaceful look on his face, even though he may be on an empty stomach.

 A few feet away, a couple of guys smoked cigarettes, and when they were done, dropped the half smoked butts not very away from a garbage can and crushed them hurriedly with their feet and walked off.

A number of people walk by....Some give the man a second look, and some ignore him....and some may wish they could do something for the man from their heart, but immediately their brain convinces them that they can’t do anything for him and that there is no possible way to ensure the man gets a better life. Some may blame god or blame the man for his life. And some may call him a drunkard and call him too lazy to work and make baseless judgements.

Everyone has the right to live. But their isn’t anything that says how to live. Some people say you live your life to the fullest by doing what you love, otherwise, you merely exist. But what if we can’t do what we love? Do we not live then? Was that poor man given given an option on how to live? Maybe yes, maybe no. But you definitely cannot say he just exists.
If you’re with a friend who has just lost his/her phone, in the back of your mind you’re thanking your lucky stars that you aren’t in their position, even though you may go out on an extra limb to get your friend’s phone back. Now what if we take that to a higher level? The clothes you wear, the shoes you adore, the shampoo you use, the water you drink, the internet connection you are using to read this, and the chair you’re sitting in, 30% of the world doesn’t have most of the facilities in this list. 

What we call a necessity, some people call it a luxury. Every Friday I spend $4.00 on a coffee at starbucks....I just spend $20.00 on a hair cut that I didn't necessarily need. Now I could give that money to a starving man and he may use the money in such a way that his entire day’s food is adjusted. Do I actually do it? No. 

Appreciating the things we don’t realize, which are existing around us, is something that very few people do. A ceiling fan on a hot day is something you wouldn’t give a second look, because it is supposed to be there. It issupposed to work. The day it stops working, you realize how much comfort the fan brought you....The problem with our generation is that we grew up with everything around us. We don’t realize how lucky we are to have what we have. How many times have you sat back and said, I’m happy with what I have. I don’t require anything else.

Both of my parents are from the Birmingham area...As a kid and even now as an adult, one of my favorite things to do while traveling to visit my grandparents was look at the big city lights at night. While everyone was sleeping, my dad would wake me up and tell me to look out the car window at the beautiful glow of the city. My Grandfather (my dad's father) made the absolute best peanut butter pies....I mean it was melt in your mouth good. When he passed away....there were several pies in the freezer that he had made dad took 2 of those and was bringing them home with us. We were at an intersection at a red light....I am looking out the window when I saw a man approach...Looking very much like the man I described earlier...dirty, tattered clothes...his skin looked like it was worn from many years of hardship. Hardships I will never know about. My dad rolled down the window just a tiny bit and the man asked for money for food. While my dad did not give him money....he reached into the backseat and grabbed one of the pies...and gave it to that man. His eyes filled with tears and he thanked my Dad profusely. The light turned green and we drove off. I protested that we only had 2 pies of Pepaws...and asked why he did that. He looked at me through the rear view mirror and said...."I know what its like to be hungry..." 

As we drove home that night, my dad woke me up to see the lights....and as I sat silently in that back seat and watched those big sky scrapers pass by...I glanced at my dad and caught him wiping a tear from his cheek. My dad, whether he knows it or not, taught me a valuble lesson that day....

We realize the value of things only after we lose them. If we took time to appreciate the things around us, the things people do for us, the little things in life, the state of life we are blessed with, and stop taking things for granted, we can then answer the question on how to live life. No one can define it for you, but you can add value by beginning to appreciate it....


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