The Unseen Disadvantage

THE RACE 

The first runner is 100 feet ahead of almost everyone 

but the second runner is very close behind him

The third runner is 50 feet behind the first two

The last runner is a shocking 100 feet the behind the first two. 

*

Now a loudspeaker comes on revealing 

there is one last runner who has not even appeared on the horizon yet. 

An aerial view is offered of the running course, 

We now see each of the runners had a different starting point. 

*

And now we see the runner who has not yet appeared on the horizon.

The distance he has had to cross is incomparably longer

than any other runner in the race.

*

Though he is not yet in sight on the horizon, 

this view reveals 

the last runner to be miraculous. 

The greater distance he has traveled is now witnessed.

His endurance, perseverance, and relentless striving 

to conquer the disadvantage 

has revealed the true victor.  

The crowd cheers, reveling in his achievement. 

But he can’t hear them or see them. 

The distance is too great. 

He is looking ahead for the runners he can’t catch up to. 

He feels his race is lost, and begins to despair. 

*  *  *  *  * 

We can’t know another’s journey by watching the finish line. 

If we can’t see the whole picture, 

we can’t know who is in the lead, and who is falling behind

“The 10,000 things rise and fall without cease.” Lao Tzu. 

*

When we see our neighbor who lives on the street

We can consider his unseen disadvantage 

that has led to the disadvantage we can see.

Compassion may replace short-sighted judgment.

*

When we see someone doing so well 

that our own life suddenly seems insignificant

We can consider the distance 

that we have traveled

both within and externally.

*

And if after consideration

we find no justification

for the lack of tantamount achievement in our own life,  

let’s not allow comparison to the well-doer to become self annihilation. 

Let’s allow the comparison to inspire the fire to Strive; 

that it may be received with empowering Gratitude 

and never the obstacle of resentment. 

Image

 

 

Samuel

I met this man on the street, and he lives on the street, and there was something about him. He looked a bit like Hendrix, if Hendrix had lived and aged. He had soulful eyes, and he was holding a cup. I walked up and explained I didn’t have any bills, but I have change. He looked at me, and said, “You don’t need to give me a thing. You’re the first kind soul I’ve seen today. You’re open! And everyone else on this boulevard is closed. Look around.” And I did. And it was mostly true.

And we started talking, and this man is wise, and he’s spiritual, and he uses that term.

He said, “Go on, ask me anything you want. I can answer it.”

And I said, “What do you do when you feel scared?”

And he said, “What kind of scared are you feeling?”

And I said, “The world just seems so complicated and technology driven and impersonal and out of control, and I’m trying to adapt and survive, but I feel overwhelmed by it.” (My first days in the city after six years in a forest very little humanity.)

And he said, “Its not the world, its not the technology, its not any of that. Its your family.”

And I said, “What?”

And he said, “Your family makes you think you can’t do it, you can’t handle whatever’s in front of you, you can’t change it. Whatever you grew up with, made you feel you’re not enough for the thing in front of you. I don’t know what they did to you, but whatever it was, it isn’t true.

You don’t even see the technology, you don’t even see the situation. You see your judgement of the situation. You decided its bigger than you, and more than you can handle, because that’s how they made you feel when you were young. So that’s what you see. LIttle kids are doing things on computers. You know you can do it. But you’ve decided technology is bigger than you are, and that’s why you feel overwhelmed.”

I stood there, reeling. He went on to say people give him mean looks sometimes, which was happening as we spoke. I saw someone looking judgmentally at him, and at me for talking to him. He said some people call him ni**er. Then he stared at me and said, “You afraid of black people?” I laughed, and so did he. And he said, “See there? Some people are afraid of me, because that’s a fear their family put into them. What you’ve got is the same thing. Its a judgment, but instead of it being about black people, its about technology, and when you’ve got a judgment of technology, you don’t see the technology, anymore than they see me when they call me a name like that. Do you understand me?”

And I said, “Yeah, I do. I’m Jessi,”

And he said, “I’m Samuel.”

And I said, “I’ve got to go into the drugstore. But if they’ll let me take cash back, I’d like to repay you.”

I was in the drugstore for a very long while. The store was just not organized. When I came out, Samuel lit up. He said, “Oh! I thought you were putting me on.” And I said, “No, its hard to find anything in there.”

He said, “I thought you were the real thing, then I didn’t, and now I’m glad you are.”

So we talked some more, and the more he talked, the better I felt, and the less scared I was about my new life. He had such a calm about him. At a point I just wanted to hug him, but I didn’t want to be weird.

And then a bit later he said, I want to ask something of you, but I don’t know if I should. And I got a little creeped out, although in over an hour of conversation with Samuel, he did not appear anything less than sane and wise, but I suddenly felt apprehensive. And he said, “Can I get a —-?” And I said, “A what?”

And he got shy, and he said, “A —-?”

And I said, “A WHAT?”

And he said, “Oh, never mind!”

And I said, “No, I want to know. Can you get a WHAT?”

And he looked at his feet, and he said, “Can I get a . . . (very long pause) . . .can I get a hug?”

And I said, “I’ve been wanting to hug you since you took my fear away.” And we hugged, and it was nice, and laughed at the looks that seemed to get.

He told me that we’ve lost touch with our instincts because of our thinking. He said he doesn’t read books, and doesn’t listen to words so much. He said, “I pay attention to life. Not what the humans are calling life, but LIFE. And Life is Spiritual. Not the cars, not the busy people, but LIFE. And he said when he pays attention to it, he sees things. He said he saw openness in me.

The truth was, I I was feeling overwhelmed. But when I saw him, I did open up, and I don’t know why.

He’s a talker. I had to be strong with him and pull myself away both times I left him, but I felt he needed someone to listen to him, and I felt I needed his words, and I felt better after time with him.

The most amazing part of it was, he looked at me towards the end of our talk, and knowing nothing but what I’d told him, he asked, “Do you play guitar?” And I said yes, and he looked up at the sky and back at me, and said with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “Somebody’s telling me things about you.” Then he said, “Do you think you could put music to my words?”

And I said, “Probably.”

And he got shy again, but  he pulled it together and said, I want to give you something.

He started reciting poetry, one poem, several minutes long.

It was very moving. I broke out in chills from tip to toe which typically tells me something important is happening, and had a few tears. It was about his life, and all he’d faced, and it was all rhymes, and it was like hip hop, but this man was at least in his 60′s and his style had so much more maturity and wisdom than I equate with the predominant genre; and the poetry went through the dark times, and the dark deeds, and then how he began to find Truth and turned his life around, and began to see things as they are, observing Life and humanity’s way in it, and at a point in this, he pulled up his shirt, and revealed a thick knife scar that had cut most of his stomach open, as he spoke of having seen the darkness before the light. Then he put his shirt down and kept going with this rhyme and his message.

When he was done he looked in my eyes and said, “That reached you.” And I said, “Yeah,” and he said, “You’re open. Stay open.”

I felt great the whole day after that.