It’s a selfish thing we do, this wandering of ours.
It’s true. We don’t stop when we see the friendly man with the clipboard holding a picture of a child we’ll never meet. You shouldn’t count on us to pick up the phone when a commercial with instrumental music asks for donations to be sent to a far away fund.
We’ll refuse to sign checks with our names and addresses stamped on them.
But on our road to everywhere, on the path less traveled, we have paused in our steps and bought a meal for the homeless man playing with his dog outside of the grocery store. We did what we could; we learned his name. We sat down, broke bread, and took the time to listen to his stories of a simple childhood in a small fishing village that was not long after followed by crushed dreams of coming to the big city and finding it was exactly what he didn’t want his life to be.
We have helped young mothers carry groceries and push their strollers over sleek cobblestones while they giggle and glow, recounting stories of their baby’s first laugh and cry. As we leave them, there on the sidewalk, we realize they are gently pushing their whole world in that stroller and silently thank them for letting us anywhere near such precious cargo.
We have asked strangers to let us work on a rice paddy in exchange for the experience alone – dragging our tired feet through the water as we listen to others narrate folktales to pass the time in the sweltering heat. We thanked them for their stories over glasses of beer and a shared plate of roasted nuts. We sat there and listened to them discuss politics and reminisce on a time more simple than this. Through their eyes, we were able to see into the past and appreciate all that we currently have.
We’ve taken duffel bags filled with our clothes and driven down to the shacks on the side of the highway to distribute them. Children accepted oversized and undersized t-shirts with excitement. In turn, they offered us endless hugs and smiles. In case anyone was wondering – that is the currency we survive off of.