This morning while waiting on the train in the subway, I was made aware (actually, everyone was) of a woman’s distress. She was standing with a man and alternated (she) between crying and yelling. There was also some incoherent (in words; but the tone was evident) begging. This went on for quite a while (the train was quite tardy), so after a while I turned off my music to better hear. This desire to ascertain exactly what was happening was not born of nosiness; instead her level of distress was so palpable I desired to know if I could have been of service.
I am still unsure what relationship she had with the gentleman; and this went beyond the obvious fact of race – she was white, he is black. My confusion stemmed from his body language as she loudly emoted. He was rigid and seemed unmoved by her level of distress. At one point I thought he was transit or some other personnel. At another, because of the intimacy of her garbled distress, I convinced myself they were much better acquainted. Their relationship may be questionable; but what bears no doubt are her emotions. She is in trouble.
There is something about this time of the year that can take us, tie us up in knots then, when we are good and twisted, suddenly release us, spread us out on the pavement and leave us there… bare. The holidays and especially this one evoke so many emotions in us that many of us struggle to handle. Sometimes, we can ill catch our breaths. The timing of Christmas, so very close to the end of the year seems to be the stuff of a bad joke – it sits there at the gate, ready to stop and pile-up everything that has happened from January to then, causing a cluster-fuck. It seems to say, “Only those who know the password get to go through. The rest… oh well.” The not-so-funny thing is that where our pain is concerned, there is no damned password!
… And then, there are the jingle bells! Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with (contrived) images of people having fun, being lovingly wrapped in the bosom of their families, being showered with excess – love, acceptance, nurturing, the material manifestations that exist at this time – bombarded with a (fabricated) comparison that highlights our lack. The smiling faces and evidence of success and wealth leave little room for our realities – the pain of rejection, abuse, loss, fear, poverty, homelessness, depression or hunger.
I felt this woman’s distress. I felt it for her today. I have felt it within myself in days gone past. I too have cried the cry from the soul – the one that sees no one – not those standing in front of you, next to you or above. The soul-cry that only sees the widening chasm within that threatens to win dominance over your fight without. I listened today in fear for this woman because well, I was her.
I did not go to her. I comfort myself thinking I did not do so because I refused to intrude on her pain. Truthfully however, I wonder whether I was afraid it would take me back to my dark places. Now, I ask the Universe to please watch over her. To wrap its arms around her as it has me. To place below her a cushion, so she has a soft place to land. I ask you to please join me in being mindful of all around us, names known and unknown, who may be struggling… at this time of the year. Because of this time of the year. Let’s all remember that pain and hopelessness never take a vacation and, they are no respecter of persons.
The holiday season can be magical. But sadly for those in pain, those without hope, those in despair, the only magic they may be interested in is the one makes them disappear…