Today was another lesson on how I have no grounds to complain about my life. But, the idiot that I am, well, this lesson will soon be forgotten. When I start whining the "poor me!" tune, smack me on the head and remind me about this one and other such lessons, will you?
"What happened today?" you wonder. You are perhaps even annoyed that I have not gotten to the meat of the story, as the "non-veg" people might say. Come to think of it, what do vegetarians say in place of "meat" when the narration seems to be going off on a tangent?
Don't get annoyed. Stick with me instead.
Anyway, I set out on my walk by the river. I might as well make good use of the furlough time, right? Less than a month of furlough is all I have, and then work will restart with those damn meetings.
A man, about ten or more years older than me, who was a few paces ahead, stopped to pick up a twiggish branch lying on the side that he thought he could use as a stick when walking. I know that feeling. Every time I go hiking, I am tempted to grab one of those sticks and walk. There is something wonderful about walking with a stick that is not a walking-stick. Perhaps it is coded within our genes, from centuries of our ancestor males heading out on hunts with sticks and stones as their weapons.
He walked a few steps with that stick. But, it was too much of a twig and less of a sturdy stick. He paused. He tossed it away. But then he didn't seem to like where it fell. So, he got off the path, grabbed it and heaved it over the bushes. And he muttered something.
I kept walking. A few steps and I couldn't even hear him muttering. I looked back to see, and he was not to be found. Maybe he decided to discontinue the walk? For want of a stick the walk was lost?
The day was rapidly warming up. The idiot that I am, I was wearing black. I could feel even my paunch getting roasted! Those protected areas--where the sun don't shine, as they say--are the only ones that retain the original skin tone anymore. Were my grandmothers alive, they will be shocked at how dark I have become this summer. The grey hair on my arms are now shinier than ever in contrast.
I saw a guy walking towards me. But, oddly enough he was keeping to the left. He had a stick. Well, it was a cane. A silvery cane with a red tip. A cane that he was arcing left to right and back as he walked briskly.
I crossed over to the left side so that I would not be in his way. I was reminded of a story from my young days. In the night, two people notice a faint light walking towards them. They wonder what that is. As they get closer, the light gets brighter and they realize that it is a blind man walking with a lamp in his hand. They laugh. "What an idiot. A blind man who cannot see and yet he is carrying a lamp with him" they remark to each other. As they near the blind man, they ask him, "you can't see anyway Why do you carry that lamp?" To which the blind man replies, "so that you can see."
This man was walking a good pace, arcing his cane, while on the phone.
Picture this in your mind: A blind man, about forty years old, with a backpack across his shoulders, walking by the river on a gorgeous summer morning, checking with his cane what lay ahead of him while talking with somebody on his phone.
You think I have anything to complain to him about the misfortunes in my life? You think you have?