Last night while on the bus, at a stop there waiting was a woman sitting in a wheelchair. I admit to being a bit grumpy when we pulled up, because, well, I worked late, one train went out of service at Bowling Green, waited approximately twenty minutes for another one that did bring me into Brooklyn, but because that one was not going to my stop, had to switch to yet another and that wait was another fifteen minutes. Finally got above ground and waited forty minutes or so for the bus. So, just the mere thought of being delayed yet again for any reason, did not bode well.
We picked up the passenger and got moving again quite quickly (thank God) and, this is where this finally becomes important (because I know damned well not one of yall truly care about my commuting woes!) – she was absolutely adorable! The passenger in the wheelchair was of indeterminable age (as black adults can at times be) and, her legs were very very short. In fact, the tips of her feet barely reached the edge of her chair. For arms she had, not prosthetics, but that plastic mold that simulates the look but does not move (please excuse my ignorance if are indeed still called prosthetics). From tip to toe she was approximately the size and height of the average eight year old. And, I could not stop looking at her.
From the moment she came onto the bus, she greeted the driver with the biggest smile and then giggled when her companion pointed out to her that he (the driver) was the same one that dropped them off at their earlier destination. For some reason this tickled her, which made those of us within close proximity of her laugh as well. The sound from her was delightful! I could not stop looking at her. And, I am unsure why. She is by no means the first, nor the hundredth person I have encountered on my journey that required a wheelchair or some kind of assistance; but there was something about her that stood out… wow; that word! Yes, even sitting, she stood out above us all! She certainly did me.
So I forgot about my prior grumpiness and lost myself in her. She had a smile on her face that reached and kissed her eyes the entire ride that absolutely fascinated me. I kept looking for and wondering about the source of that smile. I kept thinking, “How is she so happy… sitting there?” And, as I watched her, she kicked off her little shoe that sat near the edge of her chair and all of a sudden I saw a phone there – she was using her toes to navigate Facebook! I was dumbfounded! And, she was quite adept and quick too!
My mind was completely blown at that point… she had me! I watched in fascination as this woman-child did exactly what I have done countless times – commute home and peruse the internet to pass the time. I admit to my ignorance in thinking/expecting her reality to be so very different than mine. I own up to being shocked that save for where/how we sat, she had similar interests as I (with probably more “friends” and followers– considering I am only now at a whopping 228!).
I watched a woman on the bus yesterday whose presence taught me so much; I thank God for her. I watched and heard joy as it emanated from her – joy I thought her handicap would/should have negated. I looked on in utter disbelief as she demonstrated skills I never imagined; never envisioned. I secretly cheered as she made my common abilities, well, common. Of the two, she ran circles around my walking, touching, grasping, taking-every-blessing-for-granted ass!
I, like most of you have been extremely fortunate – oftentimes my biggest worry is what pair of shoes to wear – not wishing I had (natural) feet to put them on. I stack accessories from wrist to elbow without a thought – this young woman gets up and attaches something false in the hope it minimizes our stares. For years people have commented on my walk – some may call it a “strut” – for me it is simply a stride I value because it helps to assert my strength, my independence, my pride, my will. Her view? Well, it’s always waist-high.
Yet I watched her and what shone from her eyes and tripped off her tongue in laughter were shrouded in a joy that I, for all my “advantages” envied. It was pure. As she sat and went about her life leaving me to stare in wonder and awe, I saw true peace. I was looking at a woman for whom I am certain life has not been as kind or as accommodating as it has been to me, but who seems to have arrived at a wonderful place of acceptance and gratefulness hence tranquility – unlike anything I arrive at on a continuous basis.
Isn’t it just downright funny (and embarrassing) how the more we have the more we crave? And, the less we’re grateful? At exactly what point do we lose our sensitivities with regard to just being satisfied and sated? How often do you wake up and just thank your God, the Universe for having done so? When was the last (or the first) time you ran for the train, missed it and instead of cursing the MTA or the person in front of you slowing you down at the turnstile, you just acknowledged with infinite gratitude that you are able to run?
I watched a woman who I thought had so much to be unhappy, angry and bitter about smile through the ten minutes of my commute. And in doing so, she showed me I was the one with the handicap and taught me that giants can indeed be little.
“Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one…”