“You are right, I cannot begin to know another’s story. I guess we each have our own challenges along life’s path,” he mused back to the page.
Just then he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. Pulling it out he hoped it was someone calling from one of the jobs he had applied for, instead he saw his brother’s name light up the screen. He pushed the decline button since he was in the library and did not want to make noise with a conversation. Then he quickly text him, “in the library, so can’t answer right now, is everything okay,” he typed.
His brother Andrew’s response came quickly back, “yeah, everything is good, I just wondered if you wanted to grab lunch with me today, I will be in the area working with some clients.”
Doug’s initial response was to say a quick no, but then he felt himself soften, thanks to the morning communication with the magazine. His present state of affairs did not make him a bad person, he did not consciously choose to have a work accident, his homelessness did not make him unlike-able. “I am a good person he thought, this is just something that is going on right now, it’s not forever,” he rallied inside.
“I would like that,” he replied to his brother.
“Great, let’s meet at Annie’s Deli, my treat. Does 1:00pm work for you,” inquired Andrew.
“Yes, I will see you then,” responded Doug.
Doug felt his spirits lift, he felt as though something was changing, opening up, waking up inside him. He couldn’t exactly articulate what it was, he just sensed a shift, as though a big wind had blown through, lifting and carrying away all the negative debris. Sitting there quietly lost in his own reverie, he had not noticed the young mom getting up with her daughter. The playful dark bobbing curls swished past him, looking up he watched them slowly walk towards the stairway to the lower level. Curiosity pinged him again, “what was her story, why, how..,” he accepted that he would likely never know the answers.
The magazine laid resting in his lap, looking down he saw the conversation thus far presented by the page,
Are you happy?
Yes, we are still here.
Anything is possible and we are the true you, the inner self.
There is more to you than your physical body.
Are you happy?
It is nice to feel such raw truth. How do all of those feelings serve you?
The list of feelings you shared, do they make you feel better as you let them grow and expand or do they make you feel worse? Do they help you to create the change you want or cripple you in the process of trying to move forward?
We are here with you, we are communicating together, it is okay, you are not going crazy. Your raw truth is powerful. Look around, do you think anyone else in this room may feel some of the same things you feel?
Do you think anyone sets out to be homeless, to not have food, to not be warm, safe, and surrounded by others who care?
Everyone has their story, their journey, you have been so self absorbed that you have walled off the opportunity to see, learn and grow, this is not an end, it is the beginning of something different.
The last line had him thinking, maybe this could be a new beginning. He had been building and working on a construction sites for almost ten years. He loved the work, yet, he had started to get sloppy and not care how his workmanship looked. He had found himself more and more frustrated with his boss, who never seemed to care about the quality of the job, it was all about deadlines and bottom lines.
Doug knew he was a talented wood worker, however, his true gift was rarely used on the job site. It was always a push, rushing to get one job done, so they could move to the next. No wonder he had been hit by wood not properly constrained. He had gone down the ladder from the second story, to retrieve a couple of tools, when he heard his work buddy yell, “watch out Doug!” Before he could jump out of the way a load of wood that had been lifted up to the second floor by a small crane, busted loose as it was being placed down. It missed his head, landing fully on his shoulders, knocking him over and pinning him to the ground.
It all happened so fast. The pain shot through his body, he had heard a loud crack as he landed sandwiched between the ground and pile of two by fours on top of him. He tried to get up, but, he could not make his hands or legs move. The foreman and other members of the crew rushed over. Quickly pulling the load off his body, they could see that he had some serious issues. Soon the sound of an ambulance broke the foggy delirium caused by pain and shock.
Next time he was awake and aware, Doug was given the news that his back had been broken, in addition to a fractured collar bone and a couple of ribs. The recovery and healing after surgery took forever. It is still frustrating to not have the same strength or mobility that he once had. At twenty-eight years old, he should still be strong and able-to carry large loads. While he had eventually received a Workmans Comp settlement and qualified for unemployment, his medical bills and physical therapy ate it all up quickly. More than anything he knew that his attitude had taken him the rest of the way down. He had gone straight into construction out of High School, it was what he knew, how he identified himself, what would he do now? He had no interest in college, he liked working with his hands. Thankfully his hands still functioned well and the physical therapist told him that with focus and consistency he could build his body back up. Something in the whole experience had taken the spark out of him. He had already found himself frustrated with the company he worked for, the accident just solidified his need to do something different, but what?
Looking back down at the magazine, he watched the next words appear.
“Have you made a list of the things you enjoy doing? Exploring the aspects of your previous job that you liked to do,” inquired the page.
Taking a deep breath, Doug, looked up from the glossy papers in his lap to digest the last words. No he hadn’t done that, it was time to do something, that was for sure. He closed the magazine and then quickly opened the page back up, wanting to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
“We’re still here,” the new words seemed to chuckle at him.
Turning the magazine over he looked for the library tag, there wasn’t anything on it, no price, no address, no library code, nothing. He went up to one of the library desk’s and asked if the magazine was for sale, or belonged to the library. While the assistant looked the magazine over, Doug found himself holding his breath, he didn’t want the person to open it and also worried that he might lose this new found window into his inner thoughts.
“It’s not ours, looks like its one of those free publications, I do not see any barcode or price listed,” smiled the young library assistant handing the magazine back to Doug.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Doug quickly tucked the magazine in his backpack before walking to Annie’s Deli to meet his brother.
To be continued… 30