“when i was young, i didn’t know too much. then i grew up, i found out life was hard…harder than stone…”
sometimes in life, there is a struggle. as i try to create an acceptance of my current reality, put positive spin on the fact that re-entry has been deeply heartbreaking and find “home” again, i have moments where my heart opens so fully it actually physically hurts and other moments where my heart closes off intensely and i feel frozen…which also physically hurts.
imagine my own surprise when on a day that my heart was feeling especially closed off and a bit cold, running errands and sorting tasks in my beautiful city of seattle (before i moved over the mountains), i had some experiences sparking love and acceptance in me again…pushing me back into my warm, thawed heart space. on a tuesday, not that the day of the week matters much in this case, i saw an older woman completely decked out in her green and blue hawks gear, hitchhiking. the intense need to pick her up, unfortunately couldn’t outweigh the fact that i was driving a mates car and was on a mission to accomplish storage sorting and clothing donation drops. after spending an entire week hitchhiking off and on in tasmania last november, my want and need to pay it forward is currently at an all time high. knowing two of my handsome travel mates from my final month in oz have been hitching thousands of kilometers in australia and getting heaps of rides, enjoying amazing adventures and meeting incredible people, makes the urge to pay back the free ride kindness even stronger. someday…i’ll have a car of my own again…and someday, i will pay it forward and give hitchhikers rides, offer interesting conversation and help them in any way i can to get to the next part of their journey.
later in the day…after handling ‘return from utopia’ logistics, i had ridden the bus (first time i rode a seattle city bus in about 8 years) downtown to meet a good friend from the uni days for a catch up. as i walked down pine street on the sidewalk across from the columbia store, i saw a homeless man with a cardboard sign that said, “down on my luck.” after quickly processing and appreciating the honesty of his sign, i gave him eye contact and we exchanged a compassionate smile, i gave him a friendly wave and i continued walking on my way. another ice chip melted off the ol’ ticker. i couldn’t help but smile remembering how open my heart was just a month and a half ago as i drove the open roads of the eastern coast of australia…windows down, hair blowing in the breeze, music blasting…exchanging just shy of about 600 hugs a day with the most incredible world peace family i could ever dream of…letting a new person have a piece of it and change its beat…exploring bits of myself that i hadn’t grown into until i was on the journey of a lifetime…discovering other bits of myself i never knew i even had…you see, travel opens the heart pretty easily if you let it…but when you have to put it to rest for awhile, it’s easy to close it back off. these little moments i was experiencing back on US soil, were to me, a universal reminder to keep my open heart open…to remain the optimistic and free loving soul i have always been.
when it was time to say goodnight, i took my wine induced buzz back to the city streets and walked to my bus stop…feeling a newfound purpose and feeling alive and open again after good company and sharing stories and sweet new music. at the bus stop, which could be construed as dodgy given its location and the after 10pm time period, a middle aged gentleman approached me asking for a dollar. a dollar i had and a dollar i would have gladly given, but it was one of two dollars plus the quarters i had scrounged up…all of which i needed to get my legs and my ass back onto the bus. i apologized and as we boarded the bus and settled into our seats, he explained to me that he had intended to trade me my dollar for his $2.50 prepaid bus ticket. clearly, the misunderstanding was my own. when i apologized profusely at my confusion, he smiled graciously as we exchanged a kind moment of acceptance. as he prepared to get off at his stop, one before my own, he said, “you have a good night” and gave me one last smile. i responded with, “you take care,” and once again…ice melting…a heart opens. on a typical night in seattle, doesn’t matter the day of the week…or even what city it is to be honest, this same bus stop exchange could have gone several different ways…i’ve seen the other outcomes as i have walked to my next destination point in san francisco or continued forth to turn down a new street to meet friends at a new club opening in belltown…sometimes, people aren’t so friendly…sometimes people are cruel. it felt good to not be one of them…and to have encountered the friendly kind that day and night.
the next morning, i awoke with a new appreciation. i could suddenly feel why my closed heart wasn’t actually closed…why it never really freezes over in moments when i am feeling uncertain or a bit hurt. it’s just not the way my heart beats. after a brunch date with a dear friend, we journeyed to the u village to sell some of my clothes on consignment…an act that didn’t give me much monetary luck pre-australia departure so my usually optimistic self wasn’t too sold on the idea that it would bring any kind of success. i may have failed at making money that day…but what i received instead was not something money can buy. we were circling to find parking when an old blind gentleman with a walking stick to guide him was crossing the street…he bumped into my mates car as he swerved and struggled to walk the straight line of the crosswalk to get to his curb. both my friend and i were feeling concerned…as we watched him begin to cross the next street up from where we sat idling, we saw him struggle again and with my hand on the door handle, ready to jump out and assist him, a beautiful patron…on her own crosswalk mission, stopped walking in the opposite direction of the old man, grabbed his elbow gently as she spoke to him and offered her guidance and walked back the other way to help him complete his crossing safely. witnessing this act…both my mate and i feeling the strong pull to jump out of the car and assist this stranger who needed some empathy and some direction…my heart burst open. i actually got teary eyed…because you know what? humanity wins. every time. it wins, because it has to.
just when you think that you’ve become a hardened statue that can’t feel…that’s closed off from the realities that bind you to a new kind of life…you remember that although life can be harder than stone…your heart simply cannot.