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How to be a Human.

September 9, 2012 3:28 pm

On my run this morning I saw an older man drop all of his mail in the middle of a crosswalk. I was rounding the corner, sweaty and in the throws of urging myself not to lay down in some stranger's dog-piss covered grass, gasping for the sweet, sweet life nectar we call oxygen. He dropped all of his mail, and his hands were full. I saw it. And, something weird happened.

I hesitated.

"By the time I get to him he might have it all picked up… but what if he doesn't? I don't want to offend him. What if he's mean to me? I don't want to stop. I don't know this guy anyway."

And then it hit me.

"An old man dropped his stuff in the street under the blazing sun and I saw it. What kind of person am I if I don't TRY to help him?" (This internal dual-personality-on-my-shoulder conversation happened in the time it takes a hummingbird's heart to beat twice, mind you.) 

I immediately trotted over and collected the rest with him. He thanked me with a smile, I nodded and hopped back to my self-induced-torture-called-exercise. 

However, that 3 second interaction stuck with me all the way home. I didn't do anything extraordinary. At. All. But, the watermelon-slice-smile that man gave me when I handed him his papers filled my heart with the most important feeling — a feeling I think our society is weeding out with every social-media-reality-television-whore-shaming-political-campaign-finger-pointing-allforthemoney-noise– and that feeling is humanity. 

The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me that I hesitated. There are people who wouldn't have paused. But, there are also people that would have, and even continued running. In a big city like the bright-full-of-dreams city of Los Angeles you see the spectrum of heartbreaking kindness to heartbreaking selfishness every day. This morning it became clear to me what end of the spectrum I want to be on. 

By the time I got home, (and victoriously punched the air like Rocky I,) I didn't want to loose how that grateful watermelon smile made me feel. So, I made a simple list, directions if you will, of things easily forgotten, and even under appreciated, to remember as we enthusiastically connect to glowing screens posing as people.