The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The warm wind blows over me in my convertible with the top down. This is my charmed life.
Grigio—named after his beautiful shade of silver—has two seats, a tiny trunk, and limited leg room. He’s Italian, and for my season without children to shuttle or mulch to haul, he suits me and my life.
As I exit the freeway I see a man standing on the median. The yellow light turns red. I stop. The figure wearing a heavy jacket on a June day is just a few feet from me. I stare straight ahead. I refuse to read his cardboard sign.
My friends who work with the homeless say don’t give money. Instead, donate to a shelter to provide the needed bed, meal, and medical care. But if I gave one of those crisp two dollar bills I just got from the bank to put in tip jars, wouldn’t I feel better?
The red light is a long one. My hands remain gripped on Grigio’s steering while I hope I won’t be approached and consequently claim I have no cash.
I feel simultaneously ashamed and vulnerable.
“Nice car,” I hear a voice say.
I look over, nod my head in acknowledgment and smile.
“Four cylinders?” he asks with big dark eyes and a return smile that reveals his missing teeth.
I pause imperceptibly. While I deeply appreciate those I love, I have trouble remembering the small details of their lives, like how many cylinders Grigio has.
I nod yes through the glass on my window which remains rolled up.
The light turns green and I smile again, place my hand on my heart, and give a final nod in his direction as I drive away.
My shame is that my fear kept me from connection. It kept me from seeing that with a look into another’s eyes and a few words, we can connect with someone living worlds apart.
I’m grateful to this teacher who not only gifted me with gratitude for my charmed life, but who reminded me of that being seen and heard always uplifts. Top up or top down.
Who have you been afraid to connect with?
Whose eyes will you look into today?
Who might you lift up with a few words??