Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

Dear Little Man,

It's time for me to run out a buy a few things for work and I fear I will be up half the night getting things done. I've been working a lot this week and not getting home until the night is black and the air frigid. And tomorrow, I will get up at the break of dawn and do it again. But I just needed to tell you a few things. I have started so many posts for this blog and never get back to them because they get too long and personal. So I will keep this short and simple, but it's a record, a shot in time of who I hope we both can become.

Today, as I was driving to work, I saw a number of homeless individuals. Some I have seen many times before and they seem... well, almost like this is their profession. And it's possible that it is. There will come a time in your life when you learn that things are not always what they seem and that some people will take advantage of your heart. I will hate to see you learning that lesson, but it's also important and will hopefully help you define your own morals and how you can help people.

However, there was a man today that I hadn't seen before. He was far off the road and was not asking for anything. In fact, he didn't seem to want any help. His clothes were tattered and his beard was long and white. He had a shopping cart loaded with his possessions and he appeared to be looking for things to recycle. I passed him right before getting on the interstate and thought about him for the next 50 miles. His name, his life, his story. How he came to live in this way... if he was happy...safe...warm. If he loved someone and if someone out there loved him too. How little it takes to put people into that situation.

When I was 8, I thought I could save the world. I remember looking at my closet doors in the warm glow of my nightlight and think about going to Africa. I was simply going to build everyone houses and make them food and solve everyone's problems.

When I was 11, I was in the front seat of Papa's little blue S-10 truck. The back was loaded with tools- my brother and I were tagging along as he had to go fix something. We traveled down Rt. 48, a road we traversed often. We saw a grungy man walking along the side of the road and I guess I snapped. I cried until we stopped at a gas station and I was allowed to buy him some food. We turned around and drove by the man, slowing down enough to pull over and give him the bag and some kind words. Papa was tolerant, my brother was befuddled and irritated at my emotional outburst. But I felt that I did something good in the world. As we pulled away, we saw a cop car pull over to the man. I remember feeling so deflated- we were just trying to do something nice, and I felt like I got him in trouble.

At 18, I was going to be a psychologist. I was going to work in the United Nations. Or be a nurse. Or a teacher. But no matter what, I was going to help people.

The first song I taught myself on the piano was Phil Collin's "Another Day in Paradise." The haunting notes at the beginning and the lyrics touched something raw inside of me and I played it for years. I listened to a different version of it tonight:

This weekend, we are going to sit down and listen to this song. We are going to talk about being homeless and needing help. We are going to brainstorm things that we can do to make this a better world. And then we are going to do it.

We can't save the world, but we can do something important and good. You are my gift from God and I don't want either of us to ever forget that we have His love in us to share.

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