Sunday, April 20, 2008

four twenty

There were very few people in the park this morning. There was a mist over the river half obscuring the buildings on the other side. The apple and cherry trees were blooming. The London Plane trees were budding green and the new spring grass was coming up. It was like walking inside a watercolor. I wished I had paints and an easel to stop and capture it. Who knew there were that many different shades of pink?

Maybe it's because New York City is so dense with cement, stone, steel and glass structures that the park spaces are so meticulously planned and planted. The placement of all the beautiful spring color is not something one would actually happen upon in nature, it's much more deliberate. Perhaps those early urban landscape architects like Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux had the foresight to design the city parks as contained areas of escape to fill up ones senses with more natural beauty than would be possible otherwise.

Today is colder than I expected. Today is Sunday. Today is my birthday.

As it is my birthday, I've been reflecting on opportunities lost and find myself floating somewhere between regret and gratitude. Dog by my side, coffee in hand, I've been musingly thoughtful. I'm well aware that had I not lost certain opportunities I would be a completely different person. With you, reader, as my witness I would like to remind myself that I am becoming exactly who I am supposed to be and everything is in perfect order. I can believe that most of the time.

Protected and shielded from demise, the damage and injury I have endured have brought me greater strength and understanding.

Last night I went to a detox in a locked ward of a hospital to bring a message of hope and recovery to people there. I brought a friend with me to tell his story.

I understood the people there. I identified with their scepticism, fear, contempt and most of all desperation. One young woman shared, in a very arrogant way, that she knew what was best for her and no one could tell her what to do. Then she sat there quietly and cried. Tears I hoped that were melting the resistance inside her.

Multicultural and multi generational, all of us in that room have shared a common experience of being brought to a place of needing help. Still there were those who seemed unwilling to consider a different way of life. There is no way of knowing what someone is going to say that may trigger some willingness in someone else. This is why I go to these places. I go with the hope that what I have to say may hit someone smack dab in the middle of the intersection of willingness and possibility. Just maybe someone will be able to hear something coming from me in a way that they have never heard it before. Just maybe my particular way of phrasing something might cause someone to consider making a different choice.

It's not like I'm going there and casting about original pearls of wisdom. Anything I've said is something that's been said to me. I'm really just a parrot.

My friend and I left the hospital and walked out into a warm spring night. His story had clearly moved some of the people who heard it. It certainly moved me. The most significant feeling I left with was, whether or not we moved people to change the direction of their lives, both my friend and I were, not only willing to, but happy to show up for complete strangers. This is something I don't believe I would have even thought to do before. It is only by lost opportunity and it's consequent experience that I have become willing to do for others. Today I really do see how my experience can be beneficial.

Weighing these thoughts I am swaying more toward gratitude and farther from regret.

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