Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fellowship of the Halt and Lame

We go through life blind to much. Then something happens, a window opens. For a couple months now, I've been aware of being part of the fellowship -- or company if we're going to be "politically correct" -- of the halt and the lame. What a lot of us there are! The people with the canes, the people who grasp the rail of the stairs out of the subway and haul themselves up, step by step ... yes, I'm among them. One with the slow "old" people -- they're obviously old, I'm obviously just timeless me. No, I'm not one of the obese who have loaded their poor knees and ankles with too much work, but, for them stair climbing is the same as it is for me, slow and difficult.

A homeless man, one of several I see regularly near where I work, who walks with a cane -- a man of indeterminate age, I'd guess about 55, but could be wrong by ten either direction -- seems to be on "our" corner 9:30 or so in the mornings when I go to the deli for coffee. The other day, making my way across the street with my trekking pole [no cane, I refuse to be part of THAT fellowship, I'm a trekker!! Once upon a time anyway], the homeless man, crossing toward me said, "It's tough isn't it? I mean to get ..." he paused hoping to be flattering, I think "... past fifty." "It sure is." I said. "Watch out for traffic," he warned.

In Buddhism meditators learn to feel empathy for all sensate beings ... I'm not a meditator, not in the Buddhist sense ... but for the time being, I feel exactly what the other lame and halt feel when I watch them maneuver through the city as I am doing. Perhaps this is a perk of living in a big city ... we mingle on the streets together. People are considerate in public places, they do not hurry or push the lame and halt, sometimes they hold doors. We are not made to feel our difference. We are not different, we of course are among the sensate beings. Some of use are only termporarily lame .. we hope.

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