Thursday, February 21, 2013

Perspective

I have a cold.

Have I mentioned that?

I blame the church coughers.

Also, the multitude of people at my work who've been hacking up a lung for the last month or so.

And the handles on shopping carts, and the door knobs at the church and those grody little kids that I love who insist on getting up in my business.

Not to mention, my lack of a spleen/natural immune system.

Anyway, I have a cold.

And I'm a miserable sick person. I mean, miserable.

Give me cancer any day. I can handle a potentially deadly health threat with the grace of a gazelle. ... But when I have a stuffy (or runny) nose, all bets are off on how I'll handle stress or what kind of attitude I'll have.

So, I've been sniffling, sneezing, leaking and/or struggling to breath for over a week now. I've been wondering at how my nose has turned into a veritable snot factory. My energy has been sapped. (Even more so than usual.)

I noticed that I have a brand new growth on my forehead, and have been having flashbacks to both the first grade and September of last year.

Oh, and I have a scabby sore on my nose from blowing it too many times.

Folks, what I'm saying is: I am tired, I am stuffed up, I have a scabby nose and a warty forehead.

It's not pretty. (Literally or emotionally.)

I have been wondering what is wrong with my body, why I ever had to lose my spleen in the first place and what new stressor is making my stupid body revert to a childhood wart-causing virus. (Again.) I've been hating the cancer and wondering why it had to come along and wreck my body.

Basically, I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself. ... It's because I have a cold. I always get stupid when I have a stuffy nose. (Maybe my brain turns into boogers? I don't know.)

...............................................................................................

Enter the experience that turned my outlook around today...

This morning, I was walking through my office building when I noticed something unusual. Or, rather, someone unusual. (We bankers are coached, regularly, to pay attention to the height, build and general appearance of people we don't recognize. Call it an occupational hazard, but we have to stay on task and pay attention to our surroundings.)

I was walking behind a gentleman who was wearing the most unusual get-up: baggy, loose-fitting pants that were long enough to cover his shoes, long-sleeved shirt with a high collar, gloves that went up under the sleeves of his shirt, and a hat with some serious neck coverage. Something like this:




He was walking really slowly, and looking into each office along the hall, and my spidey sense went off, telling me that I needed to stay behind him to see where he was going. (There are two banks in the complex I work in. A man who's completely covered up is a pretty big red flag. Bank robbers tend to wear disguises to throw people off, and baggy clothes can hide a true weight/build, making them harder to ID.)

As I slowed my walk to match his, he stopped altogether and turned sideways. I paused, too, unsure of why someone who I'd decided was some kind of suspect would be stopping in the middle of the hall... other than to catch me out as following him and maybe shoot me in the head. (Who has an overactive imagination and watches too much crime-drama television? This girl!)

He turned sideways, and looked into an office, and then slowly turned toward me... Looking lost. And very much NOT like a bank robber.

Sweet blue eyes peeked out from under that hat, and he asked me if I knew where Senator McCain's office was.

I concentrated on keeping eye contact - and not looking at his distorted face - as I explained that Senator McCain's office is in our general neighborhood, but it's not in our office building. I offered to look up the exact address for him, if he came back into the bank with me. He smiled, and thanked me - as much with his eyes as with his words - and we walked back down the hallway together.

We walked slowly, because he couldn't do much more than half my usual pace. (And, folks, I am not a fast walker. By a long shot.) As I pulled the main door open and we walked into the sun-filled courtyard, I held the door for him and asked if he was wearing the hat to protect his skin from the sun. He nodded, and as he looked down at his baggy pants and gloved hand, said two words: Skin cancer.

I just nodded, and said I was sorry. (Truth is, as soon as I'd seen his profile, I'd figured it was the C word.) Bless his heart.

It turns out he was walking slowly because he is sickly. His clothes were loose because I don't know that they make clothes small enough to fit his tiny little frame. He was covering every square inch of skin that he could to protect his sensitive skin. (So much for those super heightened robbery spidey-senses I thought I had.)

We went into the bank and I sat him down in the lobby and asked him to wait while I went back to my desk to look up McCain's address for him. Roughly three minutes later, I came back to find him writing in a notebook in a weak, scratchy script.

I gave him the address and a printout of Mapquest directions from our building to McCain's and offered him a bottle of water, which he declined.

As he walked toward the door, he thanked me again. I told him he was most welcome, and I thought to myself...

"No more, Evans. You may have a stuffy nose, but you have a nose. You may not have the energy to walk around the block, but you still have the pleasure of sitting in the sun. No more whining. Not about a cold, or a bump on your forehead, that you can't walk as fast as you used to, or about the kind of cancer YOU were lucky enough to get."

I tell you, that sweet, slow-walking, little man was a gift from God.

I love how, every once in a while, I can see His hand in my life. I'm so glad that I was able to help someone today. I'm so grateful for what helping that sweet man gave me in return: Perspective.

We all have something: a burden to bear, a trial to learn from. ... Today, more than usual, I am grateful for what it is that is mine.