Friday, 21 April 2017

The Big Issue

Today Jose and I went to Cambridge for a little shopping. Mostly for other people's care packages, but we did splurge a little for some fresh tea and coffee to make at home. As we walked around Cambridge, we noticed more homeless people camped out on the streets than usual. Heartbreaking for sure, but rest in knowing we always give a little something when we see them. We also saw a lot of people selling magazines and tours around know those street vendors. One of the guys was very persistent and wouldn't let us cross the street, he wanted to give us a tour around. After Jose politely told him no thank you, we know our way around Cambridge I've (Jose) lived here for 12 years now; he took the hint and let us cross the street so we could be on our way. Let's be honest...or rather I'll be honest. Those people annoy the tarnation out of me! And I avoid eye contact at all costs. Jose, well being the friendliest man on the face of the planet makes eye contact with EVERYONE and says hello with a warm smile on his face just inviting you in for a heart to heart. And if you're really lucky and stop to conversate with him, he will give you the biggest hug to carry with you for the rest of your day. And that's usually how we end up in those awkward situations with people wanting to sell us everything and not taking no for an answer. I even told Jose, just don't make eye contact. He said, but I'm just saying hi Mamacita.

I'm not sure how to argue against that and since I'm sure I'm now the world's worst person by avoiding eye contact, I just stay quiet and endure those awkward moments. However, there are times when a hello and a smile are all that's needed to make someone's day. (Jose teaches me so much about life, and here's a perfect example)

For those of you living in the UK, when you go out in a city and you see people selling magazines, be sure to pay attention to the names of them. There is one that some sell called The Big Issue (pictures down below) The people that sell them have fallen on hard times and are looking for a hand up for themselves and their families. They buy these magazines for a £1.25 and sell them for £2.50. Some of these people live in shelters, some of them live in low income housing, and some might even live on the streets. Jose and I always buy these magazines when we see anyone selling them. Today was one of those times. Except it was different in a way that broke my heart. When Jose stopped to buy the magazine from the man, the man looked at him and said, "O good I'm not invisible".....on a street FULL of people coming and going as they pleased. Most with arms loaded with shopping bags full of their latest purchases, I realized I was one of those people. I didn't see the man selling the magazines until Jose stopped. I had my blinders on, I contributed to making that man feel invisible. It really melted away my "let's get what we came to get and avoid eye contact with everyone because I don't feel like talking to anyone today" attitude.

I thought of all the times that I've ever felt invisible in a crowd of people. All the times, I wished someone would acknowledge my existence because I have something to offer. It's a terrible feeling, one that I know everyone reading this can relate to. Today changed me. It's pretty ironic this whole day really. I've just recently lost the people I thought were my friends. They have stopped talking to me after I reached out to them for help, but I guess I wasn't "holy" enough for them to make the effort to help me. So for the past month or so, I have felt invisible, and I have been praying to God to send me a friend, or at least someone that I can help asking for nothing in return. Today, my heart was humbled and my eyes have been opened wide. So consumed with my self-pity concerning everyone that hurt me, that I never looked up to see the eyes that needed my smile. God answered my prayer today. And he probably answered it yesterday and the day before too. I just never took the time to stop and look.

The saying is true, If you need a friend, go out and be a friend. If you need love, go out and give love first. I always knew the saying, but I've never actually felt it in my heart as raw as I did today. I once heard a poem that goes a little something like this...

                                    I didn't exist for a moment today, for when we passed you
                                     looked away. Not acknowledging my needs or even my existence.
                                    But in the pain I realized how many times I've avoided eyes that
                                    were reaching out to me.
                                                                                                    -Author Unknown

Life Lesson #3,989,486-LEARNED