Sometimes I wake up in the morning and wonder what has happened to the world. This is more likely to happen on gray days, when a mist meanders down James Street and there are fewer people walking the sidewalks. Those who do make the dreary walk have their heads down, their shoulders up, keeping out the world.
I stare out the window and I wonder. What kind of a world is it when a leading presidential nominee more closely resembles an elementary school bully than someone with great character about to take the reigns of a nation? What kind of world is it when people sell helpless people to other people? What kind of a world is it?
Fear hides around every corner, these days. Fear pulls on us, nags at us, reminds us of how much we have to lose. Fear shows us empty hands and tells us they will be ours. That could be our lack.
* * * * *
I walk to the corner store again and talk to Jose, the nephew of the owner. He’s in his forties. He tries to sell me a sandwich or some of the Mexican food they made on the grill in the back. When I try to pay for my gallon of milk and box of cereal with a debit card, he looks miserable.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “the machine still isn’t working.”
But I’m welcome to use the debit machine in the store, the one that will end up costing me $4 to take out $20. I do it, though, because it’s the corner store. It’s where I meet my neighbors. It’s the tangible intersection between my privilege, my relative wealth, and the people around me.
We laugh about all the snow. A man in the aisle suggests that if I want to make really good Rice Krispies treats, I need to add lost of butter. Jose tries once more to sell me some Mexican food. I laugh and tell him I’m good for now. I tell him I’ll see him soon.
* * * * *
There are big things afoot in this world. There are tremendous tragedies unfolding before our very eyes, and there are poignant sparks of beauty, of new life.
But we cannot let these momentous things distract us from the everyday. The soft-spoken hello to the neighbor I pass. The quick wave and how are you to Eric across the street. The ATM fee, eaten in order to keep the peace. A kind, enthusiastic man trying to make a living by selling Mexican food in his uncle’s store.
The world goes on in spite of the larger-than-life bullies. The question at hand, the question I must focus on, is not how they will affect the world, but how will I?