Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What choices put him there?

It was a most unlikely sight.

He - late thirties, looking older - supported a worn, faded, red backpack over his denim jacket as he trudged down our street. What drew my attention however was the bright yellow blanket with large blue stars and comets draped over his right shoulder; obviously a child's. The apparent reason for this colorful cloth was the small boy holding his father's hand as they headed down the street.

Earlier, on my morning walk, our paths crossed a few miles from here. At that time, he carried the sleeping boy over his shoulder, wrapped in the cosmically decorated fabric. It is curious to witness a man transporting a small blanket-wrapped youngster through the morning streets, so I offered assistance.

"Nah," was his reply. "I just need a ride. But thanks."

He continued walking; hoisting the child, while his free hand - with thumb outstretched - sought to hitch a ride.

Since then, an hour had passed and the boy was walking - tiredly - with his father carrying the blanket. Each time a car whizzed by, dad extended his thumb. Each time, the driver paid no heed and the duo trudged on. Together, one unit, repeating the pattern, they continued down the sidewalk and I watched them shrink and disappear into the distance.

The uniqueness of their plight caused me wonder. What choices had he made to put them here today? Were they poor decisions and now he was paying a price? If he had known the future, would he have acted differently? What circumstances put a father and son together, walking miles, seeking transportation, adorned in a bright yellow blanket on a cloudy, misty morning? It is so surprising the decisions others make. Why don't they think it out? Don't they see?

I entered my house to change my clothes and faced the mirror. Five decades leaves its calling card: what was firm is soft, what was flat now sags. Was this my doing? It is simple to dissect others' actions, complacently directing their lives. But when the reflection looking back is one's own, smugness quickly evaporates.

What choices had I made to put me here today? Was I now paying a price? If I had known my future, would I have acted differently? Did I think it out? Didn't I see?

He did what he did, and is where he is - as am I. Resentment, judgment, and regret serve no purpose. Yet tomorrow remains wide open with all things possible. Decisions do matter; I must choose wisely.

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