So I realise I haven’t really written anything ‘serious’ lately, but this morning something got me thinking.
Every morning at percisely 7:41am something seemingly ordinary happens on my daily commute. This something is a mother walking her daughter to the school bus, helping her on board and then smiling and waving her off. Something you see every morning all over the country. Only there’s something different about this Mother. She lingers a little longer after the bus has gone, she always takes a deep long lasting breath before turning to leave, still smiling to herself. She looks tired, but in the brief moments that she crosses my path, I notice that she never stops smiling.
There’s something a little different about the entire process. The woman’s daughter is severely disabled. The school bus isn’t your ‘ordinary’ school bus. The driver has to help the mother lift her daughter on, and a simple every day task seems to take twice as long. I see this woman and her daughter almost every morning, and only today did I truly notice them and observe their situation. It got me thinking. It got me thinking about people and their daily struggles. This mother and daughter’s struggle is visable. It’s a struggle that most of us don’t have to worry about. How many of us are lucky enough not to have to rely on somebody for absolutely everything? Imagine having to be dressed, fed, and helped everyday? Imagine not being able to do anything for yourself without assistance? Turn that on its head and imagine tending to another persons basic needs 24/7 constantly putting them before yourself.
Doesn’t sound all that appealing does it? Yet somehow I doubt that this woman or her daughter see their situation as a struggle. For them it’s life. It’s routine. For me I look at them and think “wow that must be so hard,” beacuse watching them would make you realise just how much we take for granted on a daily basis. Not even in a physical sense, but in an emotional one too. I can tell just by the look on the mother’s face every morning that she cherishes the simple moment of sending her daughter off to school. It sounds soppy, but sometimes it really is the little things that you remember, and that are worthwhile. The little tasks that we see as a burden, or just another part of the routine are actually the ones we should probably pay more attention to. I’m not trying to patronise this woman and her daughter, I’m really in awe of them.
This daily encounter has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Everyday I travel to work, I see the same people, the same faces. We share at least an hour out of our day together, yet we sit in silence. We rarely achknowledge one another. To me these people are just nameless strangers. As I am to them. I find myself giving the people I see regularly nicknames like ‘Clune Road Kid’, ‘Georges Street Girl’, and ‘Dandruff Dude’.
It’s funny, but it’s also strange to think about the amount of people that we pass on a daily basis, yet we never come to know their names or their stories. It’s even stranger to think about how many of these seemingly ordinary people are actually struggling. For the woman and daughter, you can physically see it. Like an old woman who needs help lifting her shopping bags, you can recognise it and offer to help. A random act of kindness.
But what about the things you can’t see? Sometimes the happiest people are actually the saddest. How come we are much more reluctant to say hello to the person sitting beside us, than we are to help the old woman with her shopping? I suppose what I’m saying is that a friendly smile and a simple hello could go a long way to making a stranger, who might be struggling, smile. Today I realised that nameless strangers can actually teach you a lot about life. So the next time I’m complaining about having to get up at 7am, shovelling down my breakfast because I actually only got up at 7.15, and cursing public transport, I’m going to try and remember that for someone, somewhere, the struggle is a lot greater.