However, it wasn't until yesterday that I had an experience which really threw me out of my day-to-day funk and into serious contemplation about life's obstacles and how I ( how you /how we ) endeavor to overcome them.
My day was a mish-mash of work, internship applications, a job interview, and several trips back and forth on the Red Line. So, basically, an ordinary day in my "exciting" life.
In the early afternoon, I boarded the train to head back toward the loop for an interview at Barneys New York when I witnessed something so simply profound that it filled me with supreme joy. At the Berwyn stop - which is just south of my current stomping grounds on West Thorndale Avenue - a blind woman boarded the train, her trusty guide dog in-tow. The day was hot and this dog looked exhausted, but, he guided his master onto the train and directly to an open seat across from me. He watched her with diligent concentration as she made sure her bag would fit between herself and the seat next to her; she folded up her cane, sat down on the seat, and began thumbing through the contents of her bag in pursuit of a massive book.
I've never actually seen a book printed (written? published? I'm aware that these are all synonyms...) in Braille before. The bulk of it covered her entire lap; it looked about two inches thick at the very least, and, as she flipped it over in her hands, I saw in bold black lettering across the front: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. She opened it up to her bookmarked page, and began running her fingers gingerly across the bleached-white pages, all blank save for the slight texture created by the raised lettering running over the sheets.
I watched this woman reading National Geographic for about 25 minutes, and even now I'm still unsure as to why this moment was so awe-inspiring to me. I wanted to hug her, I wanted to touch the pages and experience National Geographic - a magazine that I have seen, whose pictures I have gushed over - the way that she does: through her sense of touch and pure imagination. What must it be like to read a magazine that is so heavily visual when you cannot see it with your eyes? This moment - this woman, her magazine - said very plainly to me:
When an obstacle is in your path, adjust your perspective and find a way to see around it.
It's as simple as that.
And that, I think, is just really damn cool. There's not much else to say about it. I'm still basking in the glow of that experience; it was so refreshing. I was so grateful to have witnessed such a simple act performed in a way entirely different from anything I've ever had to do.
On an unrelated-yet-related note, I also had this experience on the train: While reading 'Broadway Bound,' the third installment in Neil Simon's autobiographical trilogy, I stumbled upon this dialogue which immediately struck my heart and made it smile:
Eugene: I just want to say one thing, Ma -
Kate: Don't say anything. You know me. I don't deal with these things too good.
Eugene: It's not that horrible. And it's quick: I love you. Okay? That wasn't so bad, was it?
Upon finishing this play, I moved on to the forward from my collection of Chekhov plays, which included some biographical information about Anton Chekhov and his wife, which read: They fell in love and quietly married in 1901, but were mostly kept apart by Chekhov's doctors' insistence that, for his health, he must live in Yalta, which he bitterly called his 'warm Siberia.' He wanted Olga to continue her career, though she was more than prepared to abandon it, to help nurse him or simply be with him. They built their relationship through occasional meetings, but even more, perhaps, through their many letters, filled with vivid expressions of love, longing, sorrow, frustration, a saving humour, and some equally saving, not wholly serious, quarreling.
Isn't love the coolest thing on this planet? There's a lot I want to say about love as of late, but, since I've already rambled enough today, I'll simply say this: This most recent chapter of my life has reacquainted me with love - with my ability to love - in unexpected ways. And for that, I am incredibly grateful. For so long, I took my capacity for intimacy for granted, even to the point of throwing it to the wayside to be ignored and forgotten. But I am back in the swing of life and I see love everywhere. It intoxicates me day in and day out, and it has awakened a new clarity within me that, while I'm still attempting to trust and understand, is really helping me settle into myself. Life and love are everywhere. People are living and loving - both fictional and real, past and present, and they are overcoming personal obstacles every day, in ways big and small, and I am happy to say I am one of them.
I love - both people and life itself - hard. I forgot that about myself, for a very long time.
And it's good to be reminded.