I took this photo last week and it really reminded me of dreaming or day-dreaming. It’s muted in its tones, and yet, makes a statement nonetheless.
For whatever reason this led me back in thought to something I saw many years ago. Not a dream, but in my memories similar to a dream.
Way back when (I love saying that!) while experiencing another extremely cold Winnipeg winter (and THAT means cold! LOL) I happened to find myself feeling really grumpy. The weather had taken its toll on me that year, and I had just about enough of three weeks of minus 30 degrees Celsius. Despite the frigid temperatures, the sun was shining as brightly as it would on a hot summer’s day. That’s something Prairie folks like to tell themselves; oh sure, it’s colder than the Arctic today, but by gosh we have that sunshine blaring away!
I was trudging along after a long day at work, when suddenly I heard someone singing. And it wasn’t an unfamiliar tune. It was Neil Young’s song, “Heart of Gold”. Neil lived in Winnipeg for quite some time, so I wasn’t surprised to hear this song. However, what did surprise me was who I saw singing it. Just near my bus stop a man was sitting against a building, strumming a guitar and belting out Neil’s famous tune as clear and as enthusiastically as he could. I noticed his hands were red and looked as if they hadn’t been warm for a long while.
I stood there, feeling very aware that while I was grumbling about the cold, this dear soul was making the best of his situation. And that situation sure didn’t look as if he lived anything but a hard life.
I could see my bus was in the distance, and as soon as the traffic light turned, it would be at my stop in less than 30 seconds. Quickly I checked my pockets, taking my gloves off with purpose. The “Toonie” (which is a Canadian two-dollar coin) I was going to buy a coffee with earlier (but didn’t want to go outside in the cold on my break) was still in my pocket.
I went up to the man playing his heart out and purposely made sure to press the toonie into his hand. I squeezed my hands onto his. The sun shone directly onto his face (I can see it as clearly as if it had just happened yesterday). With his other hand shielding his eyes he looking up at me and said, “Thank you, sweetheart.” I smiled and said, “Please stay safe out here, k?” He nodded, put the toonie into his pocket, and carried on with his lovely tribute to one of Winnipeg’s beloved musicians.
I turned around just as the bus was at my stop. Sunglasses hid my tears as I paid my fare to the driver and went to sit down. I learned a huge lesson that day. It took this gentle soul to teach me that despite the brevity of the cold, I had a place to go to on that bus. I had a job that paid me to have all the necessities I needed.
When we stop to think about the gazillions of things we have to be grateful for, compassion for others should be one of them.
I have not thought about that gentleman in a long while. For some reason the sky in the photo above made me think about him. I hope he’s safe. He will never know how much he affected me that day, and what he taught me about life.