The other day I was in my car driving to my house and just as I almost arrived, there was a guy yelling at me, pointing with his finger to roll down my window. The man standing before me was unshaven, missing teeth, completely unkept, had fractured English, along with a nose that appeared to have seen its better day, and his natty hair was entangled in dreadlocks. But, ever so reluctantly I rolled down my window ever so slowly as I have seen him before.
With an unyielding confidence he pointed up to my palm trees and said, “I need to cut your trees. I need to cut your trees.” He said again. “They need to be trimmed, and I need to do it.” He was forceful but not aggressive.
I told him that I would do it myself, but he insisted, “No. No. No. You can’t climb up there. Let me do it I will do it for you.”
He continued, looking straight ahead with a steadfastness that had me left with few answers but finally I confessed that it was not in my budget at the moment. It was only then that he gave up and said okay as he turned and walked away.
But he did not go down easily. He did not take no for an answer, and you know what I found refreshing? It was not that he did not take no for an answer from me, but from life.
He is someone who obviously is compromised by many limitations but none of that has stopped him from having this beat up and broken down truck as his means of making a living for himself as he puts his equipment in the back and drives around the neighborhood searching for business. He drives and he drives until he finds that person (and hopefully persons) who will finally say, “Yes. Cut my trees”.
Ironically, when I first moved in I almost jumped through the roof when there was a knock at my door. Not expecting anyone, I looked outside to see this scraggly man standing outside. There he was with a crooked hat on his head telling me that I needed my palm trees trimmed. I had to agree, and without hesitation I was the one on that particular day to say, “Yes. Cut my trees.” And, you know what? He did, and he did a fantastic job in the process.
He has not been around the neighborhood lately. As I walk past my palm trees every day I look up and see the coconuts as they increase in number and I think about how the next time see this gentleman I will gladly have him cut them down, because I really admire him for his tenacity. He is one who truly has taken on the world and has not let anything hold him back. Just because he may not have an education, just because he is not put together, and just because he may not have a lot of resources, he has made the most of what he does have.
How many people have everything, and yet never realize what they have? How many know what they have, but yet, do nothing with it? And, how many are too afraid to give life a try?
There is such an influx of limiting beliefs. The thinking that there are no opportunities, that there is more lack in the world than abundance is overwhelming. It is easy to fall into that trap. Falling into the darkness, it is most difficult to find the light.
And just as I admire this inspiration of this man for his tenacity I am equally empathetic for those who do not possess the will to pierce the darkness as they, for possibly no fault of their own, cannot find it within themselves to move beyond their self to where they dwell.
Simplistic is it to say, “Get a job”, but much more is the complexity of the situation dire to many who deserve not our sympathy but rather our compassion for they too deserve that which we all desire. No one, I do not believe, sits in their elementary school classroom peering out the window cracked from the wind dreaming of what may lay ahead thinking that their destination is one of destitute.
While my admiration is true, so too is my consideration for others’ sadness. Whatever makes one person go beyond their means to be something more, I cannot for tell what makes them so. Neither can I be so callous as to think I can be of judgment of another for their tears I have not shed nor their toils I have not bled.
The best that I can do is see the life that lives within each of us, that life only wanting to live. If I can remember that we are all breathing the same air, walking the same walk no matter our own path, and that each of us is trying to get out of our own way. Some navigate the troubled waters more swiftly than others, but that is not to say that even in the darkest of days there is not hope.
He may drive a broken down truck and have little change to spare, but he may also be the beacon of light for someone who cannot find it on their own.