Wisdom from the Woods: Life Lessons Learned From Being Around Weak People
Lives intersect in the most peculiar way in West Virginia. Like the meandering hollers and seemingly random back roads to nowhere, every path eventually leads somewhere familiar. I couldn’t honestly say what I went to the Dollar Tree for but I left with something invaluable. I was in a sullen mood. The weight of the world hunched my shoulders and worries loomed precariously like a teetering Jenga pile ready to topple in my mind. In a haze of self-absorption, I opted not to notice the hazy apparition in distress peripherally beside me. Like a speeding semi-truck, I breezed by an elderly woman shuffling at a painful pace toward the store. Her walker was more of a pusher with wheels. Each strenuous inch was propelled forward only by the gentle nudge of her slightly less worn companion. I bounded like Superman over the sidewalk curb and yanked open the steel and glass door with ease. However, the same curb was an impassible hurdle to them. Instinctively, what I’d done, or not done rather, felt alarmingly wrong. We were both moping along, just in different ways. Although we’d walked different paths to get there, every step led to this moment. I knew if I’d turned my back on her, I’d have turned my back on every prized principle imparted in my heart by my grandmother . Instantly, I smiled and offered to help. As I put my arms around her fragile shoulders, I felt the weight of her life collapse in my arms. The strength of her frailty uplifted me too. This feeble stranger had lifted my heavy heart. All of us get sidetracked by self-pity and are too proud to ask for help. Try being a G.P.S. for someone in need, especially someone you don’t know. Giving People Support is a West Virginia custom. We’re all empowered to make a difference. If I find spiritual redemption at the Dollar Tree, imagine where it waits for you.
– Jim Shock, Lewisburg WV. LBSPY #32 (May 6-20th)