It was very cold as I walked from my office, across the street to the drug store, a couple of weeks ago.
There was a fellow shivering outside, hoping for someone to drop a few coins into his hat. As our eyes connected, I felt like I travelled into his soul for a millisecond and I think I might have visibly shuddered.
It was uncomfortable to say the least and I then wondered how he got there. So I asked him. He said he had lost his job and that he was willing to work at anything if he could find work.
As I do on a daily basis, I silently expressed gratitude for my own life in that uncomfortable millisecond. As a counsellor, I did momentarily wonder if the fellow had an addiction or mental health issue, as so many of those who panhandle do.
That does not mean I judged his choices, but it does mean I felt compassion for him. How demeaning to have to stand on the street in order to bring in enough money to live. I have not walked in his shoes, nor experienced his life in any way. So I do not know the why’s of his existence.
But there are some folks whose hubris walks ahead of them and they do judge sadly.
I can’t imagine not having enough of the basics in life and then watching people as they go into a store and then come out with a couple of bags of purchased items, hoping they will share a few coins.
Personally, I feel that anyone could be in that situation.
Our best laid plans can go askew and we could lose our jobs, our health and our ability to live with dignity.
Compassion for others becomes more evident at this time of year, as people donate to non-profits, either with gifts or by financial donation. Tax write-off or not, it is a wonderful thing to do and is so needed.
So, if you can, please donate to an individual, a family, a non-profit or any group that you would like to help. You can also donate your time by volunteering.
Some of us have choices while others may have very limited choices, so limited they can barely be called choices.
I dropped some money into the hat of the man on the street that cold day hoping that if I was in the same situation, people would do the same for me.
I have been helped many times in my life’s journey and my gratitude knows no bounds and I vividly remember how it felt.
I have tried to do the same at every opportunity that presents itself. Paying it forward and helping another person is a gift in itself.
We can give our compassion away. The smallest act of kindness can have a huge impact.
From my house to yours, I wish you a merry Christmas, happy Chanukah, happy holidays and namaste.
Carole Fawcett is a counsellor, clinical hypnotherapist and freelance writer. www.amindfulconnection.com