Another Dose of Perspective

January 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Posted in Culture | 19 Comments

It’s happening at our house. It’s scary and it’s real. It is the realization that we are just like all those “other people” suffering in these uncertain times. 

It began three weeks ago when Hubby came home and said, “They laid off twenty guys at work today.”

And suddenly, it was us. It was us wondering if the emergency fund was enough. It was us looking at loosing all benefits and all security and hoping that this bad economy would not ruin the ability for Hubby to pursue his passion.  And suddenly I looked at the news and the people in the unemployment line very differently. I second guessed that cup of coffee, the shirt I splurged on, and the night out that we spent way too much on.

It began to take over our lives. Everyday he would go to work and I would wonder if this day would be his last. Another week, more layoffs, and he survived. Yet another, more men sent home with no warning. And finally this last week, we survived again.

We are the lucky ones. But how long will it last?

In the midst of feeling very stressed and wondering how we will keep our home, our “stuff,” and our way of life, I received an email from a dear friend.

At her office there is a man that she sees from time to time. He is cold, wet, and dirty. His only companion is his little Collie, Jay. He once had a job, a good job. He was passing through and suddenly ran out of gas money. He lives under the bypass near her building. My friend keeps dog food and supplies for this man so that when she sees him, she has something to offer them. He usually refuses to join her inside, stating he is too dirty, but she implores him daily. Today he came in and she offered him something to drink. He brought his own cup. It was filthy so she washed it. She said she had no idea how long it had been since he had a clean cup to drink from. She noticed that he was missing a glove. He had no way to get another one and his exposed hand showed dirt, grime, and the abuses of the elements. She listened to his story and gave him shelter from the cold, if only for a few minutes. He has no one, cooks with a kerosene heater, and lulls himself to sleep to the sound of passing traffic on a busy interstate. Feeling the cold and biting wind as he tries to get some rest he faces the next day in uncertainty. He wants to work. Has tried. No jobs to be found, especially when you can’t supply a home address. 

She cried as he led Jay from her office today on his makeshift “leash.”

Today he became a real person to her. A person with thoughts and feelings and a past and a future. A person who mattered. A person just like her.

I told her she was his angel. Her reply? “No, he is my angel. He makes me realize just how very blessed I am to have what I have, and I refuse to complain.”

Aren’t we all just one step away from being exactly where he is? Shouldn’t we be thankful? Doesn’t this make you approach your day, your job, your “stuff” differently?

Perspective people. Perspective. And I just gained some.

My greatest fear is leaving this world without someone or something feeling the impact of my being here. Today, my friend reminded me that sometimes changing the world doesn’t mean doing huge things for faraway lands, sometimes it means reaching out to those who seem so common in your everyday life.



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  1. Wow I’m kind of misty-eyed.

    So true, I think this really hits home the way the times are. We are all THISCLOSE to being there, and those of us who are lucky enough to have a job, a home, etc.. we should really be more generous to those who do not. Because tomorrow who knows.. could be us.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a story and a great re-frame… Today I got very wrapped up in some drama, then I read this story and it reminded me why I do what I do – regardless of the petty drama.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  3. I teared up at this story. It really does bring about an incredible amount of perspective. No matter how bad you think your life might be, someone has it just a bit more difficult. So sad.

  4. Way to go and make me cry Tipp. 🙂 Seriously, this really touched me. It’s so true, you never realise what you have ’till it’s gone. I just realised how blessed I am.

  5. That was a touching story.

    I am very aware of how vulnerable we all are right now, and I am so thankful that hubby and are employed, and pray every day that we will continue to be gainfully employed.

  6. Thanks for this entry, friend. What a beautiful story! This is a great reminder for every time I look at my life and wish I had more…there are so many who have far less than I do.

  7. Tipp is baaaaack. This has got to be one of the BEST blog posts I’ve read of yours, my dear.

    This is a scary time, but perspective is so good. I have so much to say about all of this, but am having a hard time forming a comment. Just know that this is important stuff.

  8. wow….. what a story!! it is very scary out there for everyone!! i hope it gets better

  9. It’s hard to know what to say after reading something like this. It’s so sad and so very real. There were days that I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to find gas money just to make it to work and what a snowball into this mans situation that would be.

  10. it definitely takes a story like this one to make us realize what we have and what we could lose. your friend truly is an angel and we should all follow suit.

    and fingers crossed for your husband’s job 🙂

  11. Beautiful post.

  12. I agree – it’s in trying times like this that cause us to gain a better perspective on our lives.

    I’ve been thinking about how much I have, even amidst financial struggle.

  13. wow. just wow. What an amazing story. And you, my friend, are an incredible writer.

  14. This was a beautiful post. I almost busted out in tears at my desk. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  15. Guess what? I gave you an award!

  16. This is such an incredible post. Thank you so, so much for writing it! It truly brought tears to my eyes. And I think that this sort of perspective is something we all need right now. Sure the economy is bad, sure people are losing their jobs and all of that – but for alot of us, it’s just something on the front of the newspaper. We aren’t affected to the point of having our lives change drastically, you know? It’s easy to just not pay attention to it. Which is sad, really.

    My hope for you and your husband is that he is able to keep his job and for you both to not have that devastation and extra worry! I can’t imagine what I’d do if all of a sudden my life changed like that. It would definitely be a struggle to live on one income. Scary stuff.

    And thank you again for sharing the story about the homeless man – definitely brought tears to my eyes, and tugged on my heart. It’s true, the difference it makes when you take the time to get to know someone and they start to become “real” – not just someone you see every now and then.

  17. Great story. As the Economics teacher, I am reminding kids how conscious they need to be with their money. Most of us are about 3 paychecks away to being homeless/ in dire straights. It is real and it is time that we all bless those we can and put our lives into perspective! Bravo chic!

  18. Wow. That story just made me tear up a little.

    We all need doses of perspective like that. Thanks for sharing this one. And when I’m in Nashville, if your friend needs anything for this man, please let me know.

  19. Thank you for this excellent reminder. We need this type of thing every single day- it’s amazing how easy it is to fall into self pity.

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