I walked past him and then a voice inside of me said to turn around and give him some money. As I did, I realized there was something in his eyes that made me want to stay longer. I was late, I was on my way to meet friends... but his eyes were captivating. There was a sadness in them that I recognized, as if I were looking into my own eyes.
We talked for a few moments, just simple conversation. “Where was I from”, he asked, then me asking the same of him. He was quite charming and within minutes I could tell he was very intelligent . I was certain that he did not want to be where he was, that some fate of life had made it necessary.. We made small talk and after a few minutes we exchanged smiles, wished each other a good life and then as is customary in France, I kissed his cheeks and he did the same to mine as we said goodbye.
As I turned the corner I began wishing I had stayed longer. But I was late... As I continued down the street I thought of a book I had recently read, the following quote comes from 'Manuscript Found in Accra', by Paulo Coelho
“Walk neither faster nor slower than your own soul. Because it is your soul that will teach you the usefulness of each step you take. Sometimes taking part in a great battle will be the thing that will help to change the course of history. But sometimes you can do that simply by smiling, for no reason, at someone you happen to pass in the street. Without intending to, you might have saved the life of a complete stranger, who also thought he was useless and might have been ready to kill himself, until a smile gave him new hope and confidence.”~Paulo Coelho
Later that evening I thought again about this homeless man and how he and I had found a moment to help one another. And I am certain that his kind words, his smile, the thoughtfulness he expressed thru his eyes were a far greater gift to me than the little money I was able to give to him. I thought about how I should have stayed longer.
I went back a few times hoping he might still be on the same corner. It was my hope that we would sit together sharing coffee, conversation and kindness but he was never there. I wrote this journal entry a year ago, and during that year I have often thought of this man and how his eyes and his kindness captivated my heart.
Sometimes life gives us a beautiful moment but we are often in such a rush to get to the next beautiful moment that we miss the one right in front of us.
… just how many beautiful moments had I let slip by? I thought about my children and wondered how many times they had excitedly been trying to tell or show me something while I was somewhere else, my mind rushing and planning at all I must do.
I wondered about the many times I have hurried out my front door never noticing the beauty of nature, never pausing to smile at a stranger, never stopping to say a kind word. My mind always somewhere else... on getting there, my lists and did I forget to add something to my lists, or perhaps thinking of the things I must do later. My mind distracted about nothing and everything…, but sadly I was not thinking about the beauty that surrounded me at that very moment.
How many beautiful moments had I rushed by and how many treasures had I left undiscovered? I must remember and remind myself to quiet my mind....breathe.... and “Walk neither faster nor slower than my own soul”.