We Are All Neighbors

By Brent Andrews

A few years ago, I went on a trip to San Francisco with my father. One night we went on a walk and, a few miles in, we saw a crowd of people surrounding a performer. It was a man juggling sharp items on an inconceivably large unicycle. The show went on for about twenty minutes, and by the time it was over the crowd had grown ten-fold. Shortly after we arrived, I noticed a man standing near me watching intently. This particular man was holding onto a cart that carried a military backpack along with a few other items piled in with assorted plastic bottles. He wore torn clothes and was barefoot. His smile was huge and when our eyes met, he nodded and then continued watching as the performer began his final trick. It was an amazing stunt; he got on an even higher unicycle and threw three small chainsaws about five feet into the air. When it was over, the performer put out his hat and asked for people to give what they could. I thought about fighting the crowd to drop in a few quarters, but quickly decided to continue on my walk instead. As we began to leave, I looked back at the man I saw earlier and watched as he emptied his pockets into the hat and returned to his cart, with an even bigger smile than before.

I am sure this story pales in comparison to the ones that you have seen pop up every so often on Facebook and on other media sources, but-in that moment-I realized that I to needed to make some drastic changes in the way that I choose to live and love. I was selfishly choosing what and who in my life deserves my love, time, and money. By doing that, I had confined myself to what was comfortable. I had fashioned my life so that I didn’t have to love people who I didn’t like to be around. I could give love when the right people were watching in order to gain their respect that so I longed for. But, that day I saw that when we think we don’t have much energy, or money, or whatever else it may be, we should still be willing to empty our pockets and return to our carts with smiles and a desire to go find the next person that could use a smile or a dollar, or a place to stay. Love takes an infinite amount of forms and it is up to us to be creative and try to find new ways to spread it. I also don’t think that love is always patient or kind, it might mean setting boundaries and being firm with a person. I think the only boundary we should put on love is that we should not reserve it to people who we like. It is easier to show love to a best friend and, while that is important, we must also learn what it means to love, in some way, the people that make you the most anxious or angry. It is in this fashion that we will grow together as people.

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