Every now and then I tell my friends a story about what happened to me one cold morning at my usual bus stop about a year and half ago. I was always telling it as a joke, but now I am not sure if I should keep telling the story in the same way as I always done. I cannot change what I have seen, but I decided to re-tell the story. I am not sure if I have changed so I see it all now from a different point of view, but I just realised, that in past few days I keep using verbs with re- at their beginning (like re-discover, re-define, re-tell) and I find it actually funny how time and life will show us what we haven’t seen when things were happening. I guess the writer, or teller always progresses with his stories so it probably wouldn’t hurt to look back and allow myself to repent.
Here’s the thing, there’s a strange older woman in our neighbourhood that I meet quite often and when I’m alone she asks me for a cigarette and when I’m with my daughter, she just says “You’re right lovies? She’s gorgeous. Oh how she’s grown up”. Now, normally I get bit angry about her when she says that, like why does she care it’s none of her damn business, but if a nice young woman said exactly same words, I probably wouldn’t mind it at all. This is being judgmental, right? It’s probably understandable, but it’s definitely not something to be proud of. So the is a story of my re-discovering the humanity in myself and this woman.
Anyway, I met her couple of days ago on my way from work as I was walking alone with earphones on. I saw her getting ready to ask me for a cigarette like I ever given her one, so I slowed down at least not to rudely ignore her and waited till she asked. Of course she did. I said sadly I don’t have any cigarettes and thought we’re done here for another day or two. But after my resentment disappeared, I realised that this is not how it always must be. I don’t need to feel this way, right? For some strange reason I tried to imagine how it would be if our encounters would became less bitter (well, from my side, as I haven’t notice any embitterement on hers, it was always me who was embarrassed by them).
Although I am not a smoker, I occasionally buy a pack of cigarettes. So I tried to imagine how it would be if one day, I would actually give her one. Or even give her the whole pack and never buy new one again. Would it create a connection? Between her spirit and mine? Would it change something? In me? In her? Possibly. It wouldn’t mean much, but I would have at least acknowledged her presence in this world, on this plane, by a gesture of good will and understanding. And it was this last encounter with her that made me write this post. But back to the story.
There’s not much point in beating around the bush here so I’ll tell you what happened without any glamorization. That day I saw her wandering with her head down searching for any reasonably long cigarette butts as she sometimes does (at 6:40 in the morning) and as she went to pick one up she exposed herself a bit more than would be appropriate in public and I saw what I didn’t want to see. I cannot remember if I actually felt disgusted, but I think I was quite close to it. Again, maybe understandable, but (again) not something I should be proud of. There was a desperate human being in front of me and instead of feeling empathic, or at least sorry for her I felt disgust. Not beating around the bushes here, I told you. The thing is, she was completely oblivious to what happened and although I’m not entirely sure if what she found was good to her or not, I’m sure that I missed the opportunity to realise that life can be dirty, sad, depressing, hard, painful, but it’s still a life that should not be judged. I don’t think there was anything I should have done differently, but there definitely was something I could have thought, or felt differently. When I said this story to my Muslim colleague at work I think I said I wished Allah would erase my memory of that event and also something ridiculously stupid about removing my eyes that have seen it all. I’m sorry about that. Really, really sorry. Basically, nothing that she has done was wrong. So she forgot, or couldn’t put the pants on, so what the fuck? There’s no need to get upset about it. Can I know how I would live when I would be her age? Would I like it if people would turn away in disgust from me? Would I like myself if somehow I’ll lose my cool? Probably not.
So, you know the story now. What you think?
I don’t think it matters what you think. You haven’t been there and you haven’t done anything wrong. You’re merely witnesses to my failure of being human, respectful and embracing. I know you wouldn’t judge me, we all been there right? We do this often, day in day out. We judge and… as a result WE ARE BEING JUDGED. Some say only God can judge us, but let me tell you this, I somehow think that it’s actually us who do more judging than any God would ever do. We are bringing this down upon us, this fucking judgement, resentment, distance between ourselves and our kind.
Is this a confession? I don’t know. It’s a story I wanted to re-tell. Return to that moment of disgust and tell myself not to judge. To accept what is. To let the other person be. To find it all blessing rather than curse. To remind myself that this is where I did something wrong and although I cannot undone (or unthink, or unsee) what has been done I can turn it into a valuable life’s lesson. And that’s what I am trying to do. No true story-teller should turn away from story if it gets bit dirty. It’s part of life. We all have some dirt to dig out and throw away. Maybe it’s not always required that we do it publicly, but recently I have heard and read few stories about people digging their shit out of their lives and it actually made me feel good to see their courage to get dirty on their way to better selves. The truth is, sooner, or later we all have to do it. So might as well start sooner.
I’m not sure what will people think of me after reading this, but I personally appreciate anyone who has done some dirty digging. In a way it creates a space for something that wouldn’t be possible if we all constantly wore our perfect masks. I will not hide my shit, neither will I hide my magnificence.
I still feel that process of turning into a beautiful human we all came here to be isn’t finished and that this is merely a child’s step towards its divine self, but I am thankful anyway. Even if life will teach me one step at the time, it’s ok. I’m getting there.