Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One Day in a Taxicab (from a letter sent to friends in 2005)

Somebody once told me, I laughed too hard so my heart gave out.

That last sentence was totally force-fitted but cool, huh? :-) (somebody actually did say that to me) .

Anyway, so, I’ve been going through some kind of weird transition , especially over the past 2-3 years. I find that I laugh a little less loudly, dress up a little less colorfully, proceed a little more cautiously, sing a lot less frequently - but no less horribly. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my health. It doesn’t matter really. We can’t expect to be the same forever. That's the way it is.

However, some things have not changed. Although I have never been fearless. I have always, always been hopeful. And one of my greatest hopes has always been that at the end of the day Good will make a difference.

I know (I bet some of you do too :-) ) that I can be really mean and petty and vindictive (ahem - in my defense, it is my dichotomies that make me the complex, fascinating person that I am :-)) but I have my moments - those precious few instances when the opportunity to do good presents itself and we act on the opportunity without hesitation.

Here's a visual: Silas Marner counting his gold coins by the light of a candle in an otherwise dark and dingy room. That's me when I'm feeling particularly loathsome about myself. I lay down those moments like pieces of gold in front of me and I derive comfort and joy from the reminder that I'm not such a bad person after all and there's hope for me yet.

Well, one of those gold coins seemed a little less shiny recently. There was this thing that I did a few years ago for an old man I met in a taxicab whose wife was dying , or so he said. Purely by coincidence, I came across the old man again a few weeks ago. He didn¡¯t mention our earlier encounter. That threw me off the loop a bit but I couldn’t immediately figure out exactly why.

Did he make up the story many years back? Was I duped? Was it my ego hurting from not being acknowledged? Pride? I finally realized it was disappointment I felt more than anything else. I don't think he was lying the first time I met him. His story was consistent. Having settled that, I realized that what was disturbing to me was not so much the thought that I wasn’t remembered but that the experience didn’t even warrant a mention at all. In my mind, I thought I had made a difference in someone else's life - that an act of kindness I was responsible for may have provided an affirmation of faith and a reason for hope for the old man. But nope, there seemed to be none of that. If anything, he seemed just as sad and just as tired - perhaps even more so than when we first met.

That kind of bummed me out for awhile. But sometimes you just have to let things go. I guess I’ll never know the old man’s real story. I may not have made a difference in his life ( or I may have) but I made a difference in my life. An act of kindness is by itself an affirmation of faith and a reason for hope.

You just have to put it out there and whatever happens or however it is taken does not take away from the act itself.


1 comment:

jun-g said...

at least nakagawa ka ng tama at maganda sa kapwa... generosity becomes itself when nothing is the return. it is real giving. bonus nalang kung may bumalik na ano man uri ng pasasalamat. :-)

di man sila nabago, pero ikaw nagbago... yun ang panalo!