Glad to Feel Vulnerable Again
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 15:10
Usually on Saturday afternoons I go out to do grocery shopping. Likewise, on the last weekend after shopping at Hornbacher’s, I was waiting in front of the New Horizon Manor building on Broadway. I was carrying my school backpack, which was filled with grocery items, and I also had one more plastic bag, which I held by my hand. I was waiting for the bus, but I was not sure whether it had been already left or not.
I was feeling a little impatient. The only thing that gave me hope was the sight of another person who was driving an electric wheelchair in an awkward manner. He was pushing the joystick of his wheel chair back and forth, which made him go round in circles on the sidewalk. He must have been in his mid twenties, if I had assumed correctly. As I closely observed him I noticed that he was suffering from some sort of a physical deformity.
I asked him whether he knew the bus would come or not. He waited for a moment, looked at me and made a grunting noise, which sounded like a yes. I felt relieved. I assumed that he must have been waiting for the bus too. As I observed him more and more, I saw the severity of his illness, and I was struck by the feeling that it could happen to anyone including myself. Maybe I was overthinking or I was being hypersensitive, as somebody would argue. But I felt that I, too, was susceptible to death, sickness and decay.
In life there are moments where we feel everything around us is surreal and incomprehensible. I was feeling the same. I was questioning why this man had to live that way. I did not understand why suffering has to exist in the world. I did not understand why I was carrying a bag full of groceries, and I did not understand where I was going. Was I going home? Okay after that where will I go? I felt that my life halted for a moment at that bus stop.
This chain of thoughts was broken as I saw the bus coming toward me from a distance. The person on the wheelchair wiggled at me as if he wanted to say, “It’s better you waited for the bus.” I smiled with him and held the plastic bag firmly as the bus finally stopped.
The bus driver asked me to get in at first and then he assisted the person who was on the wheelchair. The wheelchair came into the bus successfully after a few failed attempts; the bus driver buckled it and asked the person whether he wanted to wear seat belt. As an answer for that question the person took something that looked like a white board, which had the entire English alphabet along with numbers from one 1 to 10.
I realized this person had speech imparities, which made it difficult for him to speak. He first pointed at one and then five. The bus driver was confused. I assumed that he was asking for bus number 15. I said loudly to the bus driver that this person must have been looking for bus number 15. The driver went back to his seat and radioed something to the GTC. The person quickly looked at me with gratitude.
I was questioning myself whether I was sympathizing him. I did not want to look at him with sympathy. Nor I did want to compare his suffering to any other kind of suffering and think this one was better and this one was worse. I realized that I have helped him in some way, and I just realized that I have to be much more sensitive to people like him.
Before this incident, I have been so busy with my college and my life, and I was focused so much on my own sufferings. But after this incident, I felt vulnerable again, and I embraced that beautiful feeling. I realized that life could change in a minute. I was feeling a great sense of freedom. I felt I should always try to speak kindly to people and try to become a better person in life without taking this moment for granted.
In life, there are these little insignificant moments that move us. We should not let them be random incidents. I did not let that moment get lost in my past. I wrote it down and kept it closer to my heart, and I shared it with you readers.
Samantha is a senior majoring in Journalism.