They caught my attention because one of them was a man in a wheelchair.
The crosswalk was a bit tricky to navigate because he had to first cross a small section where cars were making a right hand turn, then get up onto a small island, before then making his way across the much larger intersection.
That first curb proved to be a stumbling block, and as he was trying to navigate it – two able-bodied men had reached the island from the other side. One was in his teens, the other in his midlife.
The traffic light was red, so I got to watch as the teen passed by the man in the wheelchair, stopped in the middle of the road, turned around, and gently and efficiently helped steer the man up onto the island.
Meanwhile, the other man just pretended nothing had happened.
Isn’t life like that?
We’re like those three men – we’re either trying to work our way through the struggle, we’re ignoring what’s going on around us, or we’re in a state of awareness where we can stop to help others.
The person I really want to talk about here is that young man.
We are all at our best when we are in that state of consciousness.
Essentially there are only three things to remember: peace comes from within, the stuff that happens to you provides an opportunity for transition to something to greater, and that it is a process not an event.
First there is the peace. The teen was clearly in a state of peace when this occurred – otherwise it would have been far more challenging for him to be aware of what was going on around him.
This means that when things arrive in his awareness he is able to respond swiftly and with assurance. And our ability to response means that the actions we take make for a greater experience of life.
Now let’s turn our attention to the man in the wheelchair.
Michael Beckwith, who leads the Agape International Spiritual Centre, often talks about how pain pushes until vision pulls.
If we place ourselves in the consciousness of our man in the wheelchair, we might be able to see how pain was preventing anything from occurring. The struggle was upon him, and being stuck in a busy intersection never feels safe.
But then there was a moment of vision – when we “see” that there were others around us who can help. We make the “connection”, and in a very real sense it may be that “vision” that helped pull this man to safety. And we – the conscious fellow humans – are there to lend a hand.
We are wired to support true vision in each other. And we are wired to find peace within ourselves when we respond to that vision.
As for the man who stood on the curb and did nothing, he is the man who enters and exits his day still living in isolation – still living in pain.
Poet John Donne wrote that “no man is an island”, rather we are all “a piece of the continent”. That’s what makes us whole. That is what gives us true peace – that cannot be taken.