I lock the doors to my home and take off on a leisurely bike ride. Meanwhile, the man makes his bed on the hard concrete under the bridge. The contrast of life.
Each morning I wake up and pour myself a cup of coffee. I make breakfast, work, run errands and eat dinner. At the close of the day, while relaxing in my warm and comfortable home, I wrap myself up in a blanket and tell the world goodnight.
While I sleep in the safety of my bedroom, the man abides alone in the darkness. His body small and frail. So small that I barely saw him as I rode past his sleeping body. Had the light not shown under the bridge right when it had, I may have run him over.
It was early in the evening and he was already asleep. Maybe he sleeps during the daylight hours and is awake at night. I imagine it’s safer that way. Or perhaps he has already given up on life and sleeping is how he gets through each day. He was alone, and his only visible possession was the thin blanket he was curled up on.
As we continued on our ride, we found that he was not the only one. Many of the bridges we rode underneath were temporary housing units for those without homes. One bridge was occupied by four people.
On our return trip, the sun was beginning to set. As the darkness rolled in, so did more people. The bridges that were empty earlier in the evening had begun to fill up. Under a couple of them were people in pairs sitting together. Under another there were two men having a lively conversation about their day’s adventures. One of which was clearly upset.
But most of the people were nearly invisible as they sat alone in the corners, hiding in the darkness.
Riding through their ‘homes’ was an eerie experience, but what really got me was the contrast of our lives. I realize that some people put themselves in that position by the choices that they make, and that if they really wanted out then they could find a way. However, that is not the case for all of them. Sometimes life deals us a heavy blow and we find ourselves in situations we never would have imagined being in.
Regardless of the circumstances that placed those people there, I couldn’t help but to feel a slight sense of guilt knowing that while they were preparing to sleep on the hard concrete, I was headed toward my comfortable home. A home with walls, heat and all the simple luxuries that we so often take for granted.
We sometimes complain that life is unfair or too difficult. We whine over petty things like burnt popcorn or a flat tire. Sometimes it takes a real life look at the world around us to realize just how lucky we truly are.
While writing this, my thoughts are on the frail man who was curled into a ball under the bridge. I wonder what he’s doing today. Maybe next time I head that direction, I’ll pack some sandwiches for him and his neighbors.
Seeing their ‘homes’ reminded me of something I sometimes forget; to not take for granted the small things in life.
We can be so quick to complain about trivial things. What we fail to realize is that what we complain about, may be the very thing that someone else is wishing for.