so i had an encounter the other day that i want to share. i feel like my life has been a series of crazyness since last march/april when i left california and returned to the east coast. i have often felt unsettled, rootless, sometimes friendless. in the last few months i have been SO fortunate to finally settle into what you could loosely call a "routine", and i am SUPER thankful for that. but often with routine comes a level of comfort, and of self-centeredness. those things aren't always necessarily bad/negative, but they can often form blinders to others/other things that are not in the bounds of our normal "routine". earlier this week , i had a reminder of a conviction of mine.
when i lived in san francisco, i was surrounded by homeless/low-income folks every day. it was an interesting transition to living in an area with such a wide diversity of incomes, rather than just "encountering" it from time to time in visits to various locales. i think this is important -- engaging situations on a regular basis, in order to integrate our responses into how we live. then they are less "individual acts" and more "actions" that make up who we are.
so i got a deep-fryer for christmas, largely in response to my desire to make my own buffalo wings. i could eat wings all day every day for the rest of my life. accompany them with Magic Hat #9 -- that's my vision of heaven. anyways. so i've got the deep fryer, but i hadn't gotten any oil for it yet, nor any chicken to try my hand at wing-making. so on my way home from work at rutgers the other day, i'm at a stop light in new brunswick, and there's this little grocery store called C-Town. they had some of their weekly ads up on their windows, and one of them was for gallons of corn oil -- so i pulled over to a meter.
now, i would describe new brunswick as a "small city". and in this small city, there is a wide variety of ethnicities as well as income levels. there are often various people standing around in front of businesses, on street corners, at all hours of the day. so i get out of my car, and as i'm walking toward the entrance of the store, i am approaching two men who are standing on the street corner. i make eye contact with one of them and we say hi, and he follows up with "hey man, can you spare a dollar?". now, as it's been a while since i've left san francisco where i encountered this daily, so i was taken off guard a bit and found myself about to give the (unfortunately) typical response of "sorry man". but i caught myself, and instead, offered to buy him something in the store (which was one of the practices i did in san fran). i then noticed that HE was then taken off guard a bit; he then paused, and said, "yea, i'd really like a pepsi". i said i'd be right back out. i wondered if he thought i'd actually be back or not. i come back out of the store bearing a 20oz. bottle of pepsi, hand it to him, and introduce myself. he says thank you, introduces himself as charles, and i head to my car.
so i am thankful for reminders -- reminders of what our convictions are, especially in times that we have grown "comfortable" with our routine. i hope that you are able to sometimes find these reminders as well -- reminders that it's not about self, but about spreading something that looks a little out of the ordinary.