I love walking. Back in Chicago, I walked to and from the office every day at least twice, and often three times when I decided to come home for lunch to be with Taylor. These days, I don’t walk much. I hike instead, the beautiful terrain of Marin a breathtaking sight to see. (As I was listening to The Dark Knight Rises score – for only the 1,739th time) I thought of that today – a “sight to see” – when all of a sudden I remembered a particular walk home from the office back in 29 July 2010 in Chicago that I wrote in my journal.
“On my normal walk back home from the office this evening, I came upon an incredible and poignant sight, one that left me with an indelible mark on my mind.
Typically, I’m a guy who loves to stop and smell the roses, and in my daily walk to and from the office, that usually means my head in the air looking at the skyscrapers as I walk by them, the bridges that I walk over, (or sometimes the bridge up separated from its street to let a boat pass) the Chicago River that I cross, the plants and shrubs that dot the sidewalks, the el trains overhead, the cars that come whizzing by, and of course, the people, including the homeless (mostly regulars) that perch or sit on their accustomed spots to solicit for food or money. I love that walk, and oftentimes, I use it to decompress and contemplate.
Tonight added something special. As I was crossing the viaduct where the Chicago Metra runs its trains on Randolph, I noticed a rather tall, angular man with a long, metal stick, accompanied by a woman holding onto his arm, walking together in step. As I looked into their faces, I noticed that both of them were blind, the man actually had no eyes, with just skin covering the deep sockets where they would have been. They were in a fun and animated conversation. Most of all I noticed, they were smiling – literally ear-to-ear. I had to stop and look back three times, as I was just in total admiration of them. What I saw more than anything else, was they were in love. I didn’t want to be rude, but I did cross the street and stood looking back at them for at least twenty seconds watching them walk away. And I was left to wonder, the things they have to go through are so much more difficult than I ever will. Then again, maybe they don’t “see” it that way. Maybe, all they “see” is love. Of course, I saw but a moment in time, but I believe in that blink that what I saw was what they really were. Enjoying a walk back home with the person they loved.
I walked back home with a smile on my face.
I’m at home listening to Bollywood music now.”
My memory today reminded me that stopping to “see” (the beauty all around us) and stopping to “hear” (the sounds of life) and stopping to “smell” (the proverbial roses) and stopping to “touch” (the people in our lives) and stopping to “taste” (and “drink” all that life has to offer) are among the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves. I realize that doing so gives me strength, in ways I never thought possible. Reminding myself of all this is also a reminder to tell the people in my life that I love, that I love them dearly. I’ve learned, that because tomorrow isn’t promised (which I know from personal experience) that today is the only day, and this moment specifically, that you can and should tell the people you love how you feel about them. There is strength also in putting it out there into and out to the world. They are all the gifts that keep on giving – gifts I give to myself and to the people around me.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had several visitors in San Francisco – my buddy Mike a couple times, my friend Shelley one weekend, my buddy DaveRisner (who wrote words of wisdom in a recent FaceBook post “…in Sausalito through the weekend. Have missed a lot at home, but am reminded of the awesome things you learn about yourself when you travel and are able to see friends. I am finding more and more that having friends and keeping them close becomes extremely hard if you are only a ‘visitor’ to their lives.. You have to find a way to SHARE your lives, and that is where the best connections are made, and how they can best be kept“) last weekend, as well as my cousin Julie. Seeing them, not to mention all the family and friends I saw over wedding weekends in Chicago for my brother George and in Los Angeles for my buddy Tad in September, reminded me that it’s easy for me to love, cos it’s easy to love my family and friends. They are quite amazing and quite inspirational. I was particularly taken by my cousin Julie, who has taught me that the way to love people is not the way you want to love them, but rather the way they want to be loved. She sees the good in all, not in a naive way, but rather all-encompassing including both their good qualities as well as their faults; and loves them anyways. And that’s extremely powerful because love – whether it be for family, for friends, for lovers – is a language all its own. Understanding how one wants to be loved, to me is a huge sign that you are willing to give to them what they want most and how they want it.
Much like that “blind” couple I saw over three years ago for less than a minute of their lives, I’ve learned to take in all the love that life has to offer and give it to everyone around me, the way they want it received.
At least I try to…