Thursday, May 20, 2010

in the park

Every morning I get up very early and work out with a group of people in a nearby park. It's one of those organized things, where the guy in charge very nicely yells at you to do more run more jump more and you do it because you need to and also because it's fun. I've been doing it for awhile now and the group is friendly enough, companionable in the sense that we are all doing this together.

Two days ago we were on a little run and in a line we passed by a parked car. I see the people in front of me turn their heads as they go and when I pass I see a cat, a pile of blankets, and a kid and I immediately know it means some folks are sleeping in their car.

So I drop out of the line and run over to the car and I see a woman and a few kids and a couple of cats all piled inside. She's nervous when I approach so I talk to her through the window a bit, I tell her what I used to do and that I mean no offense but if they are without a place to stay maybe I can help. So she rolls down her window and we talk a good long while and I promise I'll connect her as soon as I'm done with this jumping around stuff. As it always has, my heart breaks for the kids, especially the one not much older than mine who jumps out of the car to get dressed in the street before school. Her little face is dirty but her smile is bright. They've been living like this since February.

They've been living like this since February.

So I fall back in with the class and there are some whispers, what was that what's going on are those people in their car and I briefly share and I also share that this is what I used to do and do in different ways today. Folks react in a way I am surprised by, they start telling me I am so good for doing this and I get embarrassed and a bit weird because I haven't done anything yet and this family is still in their car and it's awful. Later at work I recount it for my in the business friends and they understand my awkwardness because to them these sorts of interactions are normal and certainly not worth making a big deal over, it's simply what they do.

So today I go back a bit happier, because in the meantime I've connected the family with some housing options but am frustrated because it's going to take a few days. So I bring some food to give to them after class was over but during class others said they've brought food too.

So after class is over I walk over with some food and several others are coming too. So different from yesterday, today we are all gathered around the car, one woman is giving the kids all kinds of food. One of the guys is looking under the engine of the car, another helping load things in the back. There is talk of other ways to help, bringing dinner, clothes, a mechanic. They are inspired to do more.

All of a sudden the littlest girl starts jumping up and down Look mama, water! Look mama, bread! And in that space my heart cracks in half, little girls excited over bread and water is wrong on so many levels it nearly makes me cry. Our new friend looks at all of us, she does start to cry and thanks everyone over and over. She hugs us and we hug her and I promise to get in touch with her tomorrow. I know we'll figure this thing out.

I look at my peers and I see their faces, the generosity and kindness and everything else. I see they are moved by this moment and I am too. What created discomfort yesterday turned into love and action today. Strangers are now friends. It's so easy to do the right thing.


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24 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

This post made me cry for a lot of reasons. Love the action instead of just *awareness*. You rock. I hope you'll update, I hope it's good news when you do!

Gina said...

I cried for that family, but I also cried because it's a beautiful thing to hear of people helping rather than judging and yelling get a job. I hear that stuff way too much these days.

Magpie said...

Damn, I love you.

deezee said...

You blow me away, even if this is "what you do."

alejna said...

What they all said. I'm all teary and stuff.

Amber said...

Oh, sniff! You rock so hard.

meno said...

It's easy to do the right thing, but most of us don't know where to start. You do.

Betsy said...

See, I totally agree with Meno. I love the fact that you gave your workout friends an opportunity to be selfless and do the right thing. That probably did them almost as much good as the family you all helped!

mamatulip said...

God, I love you.

luckyzmom said...

Crying too.

gkkk04 said...

Yes, the "where to start" ... I wish there were training classes or something in that. How *does* one go about learning that?

Karen said...

Yes, it is - so much easier than we sometimes think or pretend to ourselves it is. Most people I think just feel oddly embarrassed - fear of sounding like a jerk when offering earnest help is the most common thing I hear when I chat with people in our small New England city about really finding out how to help our population of homeless people. I think just starting, getting over the hump, is the hardest part.
You are good for doing this & even better for thinking it is the normal thing to do.

Tabba said...

I just fucking love you.

I just fucking love that you can bring people 'round to the right thing.

I just fucking love you.

So, there. ;)

韋于倫成 said...

「不可能」這個字詞,在聰明人的字典中是找不到的。 ..................................................

韋于倫成 said...

無一事而不學,無一時而不學,無一處而不學。 ..................................................

painted maypole said...

what i love is that in you being you - helping this family in need - you are helping all these other people, too. perhaps in a way even more profound.

阿楊 said...

人是受想像力所支配的。.............................................

Kyla said...

You change people with your passion.

bgirl said...

i need one of you in my life, walking beside me. thanks for this post, i needed some inspiration.

and props for the boot camp class too!

b

Amy said...

You rock. I just don't know what else to say.

Kim said...

You are so good.

People that are around you want to be good, too.

This IS a good thing.

Again, you ARE good.

krista said...

you are the person who breaks from the pack.
walks to the car.
the person that causes the shift in the undercurrent.
quiet and powerful and with action.
amazing.

a li'l bit squishy said...

it's so easy to do the right thing. it's so easy. it's so easy. when we remember that there are people on the other side of those big giant problems. thanks for reminding us again and again of our humanity.

txmommaleelee said...

how do you get started doing what you do? I feel like I have a itching to help I just am not sure, how do u start??