The Luckiest Girl In the World Can’t Can’t

That was me earlier tonight.

The one weeping silently in the Chinese take-out restaurant.

You were stepping away from the counter with your egg-drop soup on a tray. You walked over to a table and sat down, your bags at your feet. Your shoes, so filthy, worn thin almost through the soles.

We were the only customers there. You ate in quiet dignity, while I tried not to sob openly, overcome by the fate that I imagine had befallen you.

I don’t know what came over me, why I was struck so deeply. This is New York City. It is sad to say, that poverty is all around us, lives torn asunder by unimaginable circumstances lived out in the open. Every. Day.

What was it about today? About you? Was it wrong of me to be sad for you? Do I even have a right to view your life through shit-colored glasses? Am I just crippled by myopic privilege?

I was ashamed. Stopping to pick up some Crab Rangoon because I was having a “terrible day.” What kind of day were you having? Was that one container of soup your meal for the day? For the week? Do I have a right to ask, to know?

I complain. I disregard. I waste. I assume. I envy. I begrudge. For what? I take for granted how lucky I am to have a small, yet FULL life. A vocation. A family.

I read this tweet today, that quoted/attributed Roberta Uno from the Ford Foundation:

“Walk your values.”

I’m not turning into a crusader or anything. This isn’t a Lifetime movie, or a Vice shockumentary . But I can’t ignore feeling crushed by the guilt of not being grateful enough, not being purposeful enough.

I don’t know what it all means, or if this is merely some bug, a case of 24-hour spiritual ennui.* All I know is it’s 2am, and I typed most of this blog with my eyes shut, blinded by tears, fingers shaking as my shoulders jerked with each croaking sob.

I’m going to wake up tomorrow with puffy eyes and drunken nose. With any luck, I will be okay with that, and do more than just make it through the day. Tomorrow, I just can’t say “can’t”. At least, I’ll try.

Everyone’s got their own universe, their own truth, and their own vision. I just hope I see mine a bit more clearly tomorrow.

***

From “Gloria” by Michael Franti & Spearhead

When many little people in many little places
Do many little things, then the whole world changes
But sometimes not fast enough for me

You see I’m just a little man, trying hard to understand
What kind of living is a life if I can’t stand on my own two feet

You see we are looking for the same thing
And we are trying to survive
But I know each day in life don’t get much easier than the last
So today I’m just glad to be alive

*In case you were wondering; no, it isn’t that time of the month.