Recently, while sitting on the bus during an early morning commute, I glimpsed a young man through the reflection of the bus window and something about him grabbed my attention. He was leaning alongside a large glass building, clearly lost in thought. A thinker out for a smoke. It was the look on his face that I recognized. He was watching the world around him through the windowpanes, something I’ve often done, but I also could see on his face turmoil, sorrow, confusion … window-pain.
I’ve been in the shoes of that thinker-fella and knew what was rattling through his head.
“How have I gotten to this point where I see my life over time as if an onlooker through a windowpane. I’m in slow-motion while all this chaos races straight past and through me.
“I see a man – but only after I smelled him first – his filthy, downtrodden odor and I was disgusted thinking I need to get away from such a man.
“I see a man – but I heard him first – falling to the floor with an awful slam. I didn’t move to help him, I didn’t lift a finger instead I only watched him struggle to get up. I thought I have to get away from such a pathetic man.
“In the early morning hours, I watched a man walking with great difficulty pushing a broken-down walker. Safely tucked in my corner, headphones on, I am an invisible onlooker. The man kept hobbling back and forth to the street curb with a bag in hand dumping garbage into the street. Twitching and twisting that walker he finally found a spot nearby and rested his back against the glass building. I thought I have to get away from such a broken down old man who dumps his trash in the open street. Then…I saw the birds. They came for the stale bread crumbs he had painstakingly spread out. He watched the birds eat.
“I am just a lonely onlooker watching the world through window-pain letting people suffer and fall without intervening. I judged a man dumping garbage on the street only to realize he was feeding the birds.
“As I looked back through the windowpane, I saw the old man’s attention had turned to me and now he was approaching. “We are one and the same, you and I.” he said, as he shuffled past me.
“And I stop and wonder: Which man is the better man? Which side of the window-pain am I living on?”
If there’d been a chance, I would’ve told that lonely thinker to put aside his harsh judgements and troubling conclusions for a moment and remember instead the kindnesses he’s offered to others facing hardship. I would urge him to remember all the good things he’s experienced and all the good things he’s done. I’d grab his hand and implore him to not think of this one immediate moment but instead to lift his chin and look up. Look upwards and beyond the cold street corner with all the windowpanes and window-pain. Look beyond the daylight and into the night sky and then dive deep into the lovely inky darkness until he finds beauty, truth, love and forgiveness…a super nova buried in his heart waiting for him to tap it and live life to the fullest.
With that, my dear anonymous friend, my bus lurches forward and off I go. I sure hope you find answers to those persistent questions that trouble you. Perhaps in the process, you will indeed gaze upward into what is possible and see a shining star – a super nova – and know, it is a reflection of you.