Translate

The Good Samaritan

       Today I had off work I wanted to do some writing at the Philadelphia Free Library. I got a hoagie and a soda and walked to the fountain to sit down and eat. I sat and ate my lunch. I could see the Art Museum, home of the Rocky steps.  I looked around and noticed there were only a few others enjoying this spot. One was an older woman eating a bagged lunch. She had a sandwich in a plastic bag and a small juice box. After she was done eating she got up and left. A few minutes later a man came wondering, more like stumbling, into the park around the fountain. Judging by his disheveled appearance and dragging feet he had obviously seen some hard times. He walked to each separate trashcan placed around the fountain and looked inside. He didn’t find anything. Each time he searched one of the bins he came up empty and his demeanor dropped even lower. He staggered over to where I was sitting and I knew he was going to ask me for money. I thought about how much I hated people like this. They were everywhere in the city. They line the streets laying in gutters begging for change. They hound you and guilt you into giving them money.


O how wrong I have been! As a kid, I hated asking my parents for money. I did it out of necessity. Or so I thought. I thought I needed things. If I didn’t have the money to pay for it, I’d beg my parents to get it for me. Most of the time, I’d end up losing whatever it was anyway. Then I got a sick feeling in my stomach. This man, these people, don’t ask for money because they want to, they do it because they have to. Could you imagine asking for money to eat, let alone beg for it? Imagine asking your parents for money to pay rent, for groceries, and then imagine asking a complete stranger. How low would you have to be? How desperate? To ask someone you don’t know to help you feed yourself. The shame of that concept, the embarrassment, made me put down my sandwich and prepare to hand it over to this man. I couldn’t imagine letting someone into my life like that. To let a stranger know that, “Hey, I’m broke and can’t even pay for food, can you help me.” Think about the information that comes with that admission. Divulging intimately personal secrets that most of us would guard against our lives. Think about the assumptions that come with that knowledge; probable drug addiction, degradation, zero home life, no family, no friends, no hope. These people are alone. And there are a lot of them. As he approached I put my hands in my pockets, in a preemptive motion to empty my pockets. I didn’t have that much on me, but I was willing to part with the rest of it, my BBQ chips, and the end of my sandwich. Then the unthinkable happened.


 He walked right past me. He walked over to the bench recently vacated by the woman with the juice box. In the exact spot, she was sitting there was a tiny pyramid of plastic juice and snack boxes and a sandwich. The man picked up the sandwich and pocketed two of the boxes. Leaving one apple juice. He unwrapped the sandwich and tossed the bag on the ground. The woman had left food, without any knowledge that a mere minute and a half later, a man would come along and she would have satisfied his painful hunger. Maybe she did know. Either way, she had done something selfless. No thank you, no pat on the back, and no tax return. We often do things because we want people to know we did them. I don't know who this woman was, but she should be canonized. 

TRUE OG
Doing something without an ulterior motive, without the possibility of recognition, without a reward, is what it's all about. 



FEAR

Have you ever had that feeling, you know, like you're being watched? It's a worry or slight apprehension. Sure it's agitating, but it's nothing to be scared of. Probably just nerves. Classic butterflies in your tummy. But that anxiety turns to unease as the floorboards creak. I'm talking about the creeps, the willies, the Heebie Jeebies! All it takes is a tiny twinge of angst like a pinprick or a bee sting to send a bucket of ice water cascading down your spine. I'm talking about dread. Shiver as a moment of foreboding gives way to alarm and panic inside you. Fright warps your mind which throbs as the walls close in around you. Then, finally, when everything is quiet, the moment you've been worried about has arrived at your doorstep, danger knocks! Consternation, perturbation ominous trepidation! Skin crawling, teeth chattering, and blood-freezing terror! A coffin opens, nails claw the wood, and a wolf howls on a mountaintop in the distance silhouetted by the full moon! Womp Womp Wommmppp! Oh, the horror! Muwahaha. Lion, tigers, and bears, OH MY...


No, not the type of fear you can buy for $15 bucks at your local cinema, $20 if it's in 3D IMAX. I'm not talking about the fear of flying or spiders or snakes. Not even crowds, clowns, or foreigners. Not talking about tight spaces. Not talking about water. And definitely not talking about the dark. Did you know that aibohphobia is the fear of palindromes? Erythrophobia is the fear of blushing, embarrassment, and red lights. Ergasiophobia is the fear of being employed. I personally struggled with this for many years along with alektorophobia, which is the fear of chickens. For obvious reasons. There is something called Eleutherophobia which is the fear of freedom. I'd say this is the least of my worries. In fact, I'm rather an eleutheromaniac!



Erotophobia is the fear of being in a sexual situation, while fenophobia is the fear of sex in general. Mormons are predominantly affected by this disease. Just kidding. And for reference, geliophobia is the fear of laughter. I wonder what the fear of oral sex is? Tinaphobia? Ba dum tss. Gerascophobia is the fear of growth, progress, or evolution. A bibliophobe is someone who is afraid of books or libraries, while uranophobia is the fear of Heaven. If you can believe there are actually people that are literally afraid of Heaven! Whether you believe in it or not is one thing, but to be afraid of the actual idea, is downright horrifying. Atychiphobia is the fear of failure, which I hear has the largest percentage of undiagnosed cases in the US. 


   I’m talking about THE FEAR. The one we all have. The one we don’t have a name for that stops us dead in our tracks like a Deer transfixed by the blinding pearlescent fog lights of your Audi. Put yourself in that animal's hooves, somewhere along the entire navigational timeline of your life, you made a decision or decisions that brought it to this point. Did it let fear dictate direction?Standing with its pants down in front of a fast-moving, rapidly approaching metallic beast made of not four but four hundred horses barreling down upon you, eight thousand RPMs, screaming move or watch your entire existence come to an end. I am Shiva destroyer of worlds. Do we let it destroy us? Do we cower in its shadow and let it dictate the direction of our own lives? An enemy stands at our gates and the last white flag was just used to bandage your arm. So, I ask you, dear friend, what do we do now? Do we run? Or reload? The Belroq rises from its ashen tomb, breathing fire into the air, standing between us and our path, threatening our very existence, our very freedom, our very lives. Sure, we face total and absolute annihilation, but will we let it ruin that which we have worked so hard for? Will we give in now after we've come so far? 


You shall not pass. When caught between two choices, two opposing forces, two complete and utter antithetical anathemas, do you cut off your arm and live, or die? Forget the odds; remember the stakes. When the walls close in and Chewie's banging on the door and Luke uselessly tries to barricade them with a pipe, everyone is screaming and freaking out what do you do? Situations often arise that we find ourselves in not quite sure how we arrived there. We can either turn around and go back the way we came or we can hop the fence. We stand frozen while it grips us, shaking us down. It slams us into submission so fast you’d think it was Royce Gracie or Kurt Angle with the Anklelock. When faced with the Sleeper hold, The  Figure Four, The Sharpshooter, or dare say it the LION TAMER, do you tap out?

Second WWF picture used in this blog. Suck it.
When you turn around face to face with fear, do you run away? Turn on a dime, scoop up your pants, and leave a Roadrunner-esque puff of smoke where your body used to be. Peace, see ya later, no thanks, I’m outta here. It could be taking that job, moving to that city, or just asking for her number, but for that split second let your mind wander to what would happen if you just, uh, excuse me, but the moment is gone. The prospect of doing something and failing, the shame, the disappointment, the pain, is often too much for us to gamble against the quiet safe comfort of our own ineptitude. Are we willing to take the risk? Sure it may backfire and blow up in our faces, but at least we went for it right? What if we shot for the moon, bet the house, swung for the fences, sure it's a long shot, and maybe we were being a bit foolish, but at least we weren’t afraid?

The judges of fate toss our lives onto a heavily weighted scale every single day. Somehow of the countless chances, you had to avoid this moment, you now stuck with only two options. Two weapons left in your vast strategic arsenal, two plans, neither of which were A or B. Do we let it hammer us, stomp and tramples us into the ground? Do we let it take the bridge? Do we die without a clutching embrace from a fallen comrade with a speech of faraway seas and misty childhood nostalgic reverie, cue Taps, and BUH BUH BUH...


No. We stand and fight back because fear isn't real. It's an invention to make our lives easier, like money or the internet. It's an efficient and expedited route to the end. An unobstructed EZ-pass lane to a life of blindingly bland boredom and missed opportunities. How do we combat this dark shapeless force with inexhaustible resources? You may think simple confidence will help, or mental fortitude, but you'd be wrong. The left side of the brain can't help you. It's nearsightedness clouds your vision. And the right brain especially can't help. It tells us to be reasonable, use logic, compute the risks, tally the total, and the odds always come back heavily favored against, but you can't destroy, eliminate, or even subdue fear. It will always be there and we just don't have time for false dichotomies. Slam the over. Roll the dice. Why not? Who cares? Fuck it. According to Mark Twain, there is only one resistance to fear and it's not logic, reason, or confidence. It's conqueror, it's vanquisher, it's master...is courage, and that comes from someplace else.

Search your feelings