There are times in a life, if we are lucky, that we get to sample our deepest darkest spaces.
So it was, on a rainy Saturday in Manhattan, I was swimming low inside myself while walking through a bustling Chelsea Market. It had been half a year of trials which had mounted one right after the other, each offering a slim reward before presenting the next task to master.
I’d recovered my health to a large extent, sold all my belongings, moved across the country on a few dollars and set to rebuilding stability in a more enriching environment.
For months I had been elevating my sense of self worth, one step at a time. It had been an unexpected incident that had jolted me out of an internal slumber and urged me toward a fuller sense of living.
However, on this Saturday I was battling inside myself; I had been for days, with no work for months after a number of interviews and my bank account sparse after a number of loans, my sense of worth seemed to be slipping lazily down the drains of the wet city streets.
It was a silent moment inside myself as I slowly meandered through the crowd, even with the sad tune bellowing from my headset I felt I could hear nothing. I’d not felt so isolated, hopeless and worried in quite some time. The questions recycling themselves through my mind seemed to offer no direction, no answers, just darker questions on an endless repeat.
At this instant my eyes had begun to well up with tears, while a voice inside my head was attempting to drain them back into the sockets.
My right hand was in my pant pocket feigning nonchalance while my left hand loosely hung at the base of my bag. Staring ahead, attempting to hold my emotions back, all I could see were heads and faces bobbing in a current.
Just then I felt a warm, bun-like mass sending me immediately aglow in my left hand.
It took me by surprise, its trusting grip, seemed to endow me with strength in an instant. It was as if in my head a frigid voice had just been saying, “you are all alone” and this warm hand had grasp mine to say, “no you aren’t.” I looked down to see a small golden-headed boy in a blue shirt, so short was he that all he must have been seeing were legs when all I was seeing were faces.
I remember being that short as a child, going to Disneyland and staring at nothing but legs, my neck had tired from rocking my head back to look up at all the adults.
Perhaps he too had tired of looking up and in faith and trust had reached for my hand by accident rather than his mothers. Perhaps as I had snaked through the crowds, so was my timing that the last time he had looked she had been right next to him.
As we walked along, I feared him realizing his blunder and being upset so I looked quietly over my shoulder to see his mother directly behind us, who smiled. She then gently poked his back and asked him what he was doing. He stopped and peered up at me and I smiled back asking, “do you have the wrong mommy?” to which we all laughed.
I walked on quietly but smiling, my eyes dry, my head clear, now not only was my hand warm but my chest also.
It is the unexpected kindness and even the mistakes of strangers that forever seem to be the messengers of the universe. We never know what our random actions might be gifting another with.
Five steps with a small boys hand in mine had communicated not only that I was not alone, but I was worthy of both trust and love.
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Assistant Editor: Judith Andersson / Editor: Catherine Monkman