I awoke reflecting on some people I have met since the beginning of the year.
The day we were walking along the island highway destined for Destin a woman stopped her car ahead of us. As she walked up a feeling came over me like I was seeing an old friend. When she had gotten close enough to be heard over the roar of traffic she said, "My toilet is broken!" I told her I was sorry to hear it, that it would be alright. Her husband had called her at her work, the toilet had overflowed into her children's room and their bedroom! We both smiled and looked deeply in one another's eyes while I answered why I was there, on the side of the road with a dog and the world on a string. Her questions were simple, my answers cryptic and surprisingly philosophical. She was rushing home to her husband and two children. When she saw us walking along the roadside she thought to herself that her troubles weren't as bad as they seemed and had to stop. We talked as two old friends would who were chance to meet, uplifted after a lifetime apart. I was destined for Destin and her family was in need of rescue. I assured her that her family would survive, it was repairable, not to be overwhelmed, breathe, and clean one area at a time. I told her I was carpenter and these things can be repaired. We smiled again and said "goodbye", she looked "at ease" and happy. As we parted my heart was warmed like I had seen an old friend one last time. I stood in place as she walked back to her car. We waved to one another before she blended into the rush of commuters, and was gone.
Many miles before that day a man knocked on my window. I had stopped for the night and was about to go to sleep. We struck up a boisterous conversation and a fast friendship. He had adult onset diabetes which he had reversed with intestinal bypass surgery. His son had become an insulin dependent diabetic in his early twenties. He had nothing but great things to say about his son who worked and lived on a charter boat in Destin. We talked of my path. I was close to a crossroad where I must make a decision. Which direction I would go? He offered advice, which I followed. It was an interesting encounter . A devout church-goer, he was kinda' preachy' but brusque, like a sailor. When the old man told me as we parted ways, that he loved me it took me by surprise. He gave me his phone number and his son's. He told me where to find his son when I arrived in Destin, "The luckiest fishing village in the world!". He said he would call his son and let him know I may pay him a visit at the docks and boardwalk where he lived. When I called his son I first asked if he had spoken to his father in the previous week. He had, but his father had not mentioned me at all. After I explained about my meeting with his father we met by the charter fishing vessel where the young man lived. He looked nothing like his father who was shorter than me and heavy set still after loosing much weight from his surgery . The son was tall, lean and muscular. He was able to show me where I could park the van and kept the world lashed on the boat while he went to a meeting at the ministry he was "practicing" with and I left to get my van. The next morning, as I was preparing to leave, I shared with the young man how proud his father had been when he talked of him and he ought to give his father a call. "He has a phone. He can call me!", was his response. Apparently the two had some things to work through...before he left for work he asked if he could say a prayer with me. There were several construction workers gathering by their trucks a few feet away. He looked uneasy when I grabbed his hand, bowed my head and took in his words while he "practiced". Like my father used to say, "He done good." I hope the two have talked and worked out their troubles. Life is short.
When I awoke early this morning I was compelled to listen to Harry Nillson's "The Point". I walked Nice (the dog), then set out alone. The sidewalks here are well lit, far from the road. It was past five, the traffic was beginning to pick up. I felt safe, the local police slowed when they saw me on the sidewalk. Safer still, when the patrol car rolled past from a parallel side street. Unencumbered by the weight of the world against gravity, wind, backpack and hound I enjoyed the sidewalk all to myself. I began to think about Nice, his limping and sore leg, the possibilities of changes in the way I "roll" until coming upon what looked like a pile of debris on the path in front of the Hampton inn. Walking closer I saw it was a person sleeping, sitting on a collapsible chair next to all her belongings. Walking quietly by I thought it was a very safe place to sleep. Well lit, away from wild animals. Hiding in plain sight directly in front of the lobby of a hotel. I recited the lyrics to the song that was on my mind earlier...""
"Sit beside the breakfast table, think about your troubles.
Pour yourself a cup of tea, think about the bubbles.
You can take your teardrops, drop them in a teacup.
Take them down to the riverside and throw them over -the- side,
To be swept up by a current.
Then taken to the ocean
To be eaten by some fishes
Who are eaten by some fishes
And swallowed by a whale
Who grew so old
He died and left his body to the bottom of the ocean.
Now everybody knows that when a body decomposes
The basic elements are given back to the ocean
The sea does what it oughta'
And soon there's salty watah'
Not too good for drinkin''
'Cause it tastes just like a teardrop
Then they run it through a filter
And it comes out from a faucet
And it pours into a teapot
Which is just about to bubble
Think about your troubles..."
I thought of the many positive possibilities before me and kept walking.