I was watching that You Tube video again…the one about the blind man sitting on the concrete walkway with his little cardboard sign, begging for money. He is getting a minimal response: a coin here and there, but certainly not even enough to buy him a cup of coffee. Then a well-dressed woman stops, picks up his sign, rewrites it, sits it back down beside him and walks on. And suddenly everything changes. People walking by pause; read. And they give him money. Quite a bit of money. He has no idea what is causing them to respond with such generosity. He’s clearly amazed. After a long successful day of begging, he recognizes the footsteps and feels the shoes of the lady when she stops in front of him again. He asks her what she did to his sign. She tells him she simply said the same thing he had said, but differently. She has reworded the sign to read, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” (In case you haven’t seen the video: Blind Man Begging) I’m looking out my living room window as I type this. It’s a beautiful day. But I can’t see it. No, I’m not blind. Not physically blind, anyway. But I am emotionally blind. My soul is blind. My heart is blind. Because I’m so depressed, no matter what good there might be right in front of me, I can’t see it very well. Not really. Everything is completely overshadowed by a bleak, gloomy, gray film that cloaks my world. I’m shrouded in a thick fog that hides the sunlight and prevents me from recognizing much of anything positive. The fog covers my thoughts, my soul, and it is everywhere. Depression does that to a person. It sucks all the beauty and life out of one’s existence. It makes me blind.
I truly do try to find beauty in the small things. At this moment, one of my Schnauzers (Zoe) is laying on my legs, dozing, content, snoring lightly. The other (Hannah) is happily chewing a stuffed toy on my lap, secure, safe, adored. I love them both fiercely. I take pleasure in them. They are one of the few pinpoints of happiness I experience and they motivate me to get up in the morning…and to continue to live. It’s not as if each day doesn’t hold some good.
Birds do sing outside my window.
Inside, I am alone. I am surrounded by silence…except when Zoe and Hannah alert me to a bird flying by, a squirrel in the yard or to the arrival of my mail. Or perhaps a rabbit has invaded their yard. Mostly, I listen to the refrigerator hum. The heater kicking on and off. A jet as it flies overhead on the way to some distant airport. The keys of my computer click and the hard drive hums quietly. Occasionally, sirens wail as the fire trucks or ambulance rush by on the main road closest to my house. At certain times of the day, I can hear a low, muted roar from distant traffic. There is no laughter. No conversation. The click of doggie toenails on the tile or their paws as they pad on the carpet behind me are the only other footsteps in my life. There is no hand reaching out for mine. No welcome hugs. Excited dogs bring much needed life to my otherwise bleak reality. I try to make that be enough.
My reality threatens to swallow me whole. I fight the darkness. I want to see. I want to live. But life laughs in my face and runs away into the fog. It remains always just out of my reach. So elusive. Unattainable. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it. I can’t reach it. Can’t touch it. There is so much pain. So much brokenness. So many regrets.
It’s a beautiful day. But I am alone. It’s a beautiful day. But I am without hope. Without connections. Terrified. It’s a beautiful day. But my soul has been nearly destroyed by childhood abuse and rejection. By isolation. It’s a beautiful day, but my heart is heavy, shattered, hurting. I am unloved. Unwanted. It’s a beautiful day, but I have nothing to look forward to. More struggles. More loss. More pain. It’s a beautiful day, but I can’t see it. My eyes strain to find the beauty. I try to make the tiny things big enough to give me a reason to go on. Yet I am overwhelmed by my wounds. By emptiness. By devastation.
There is no magic pill for me. Nothing alleviates the darkness of my world. Nothing opens a door. Nothing seems able to set me free. I have tried everything I know to try and done everything I know to do. But still, I cannot see.
There is no way to write the sign in a nicer, prettier way; to say something profound that will evoke the help I need from those who pass through my shattered world. My dilemma can’t be solved by coins tossed in a can. Although the money would certainly help, no sum can solve my problems, allow me to escape this suffocating isolation or heal my broken heart. The crowds pass me by without seeing me…as blind to my darkness and need as I am to the sunshine through which they walk. We exist on different plains. In different dimensions. There is no portal through which I can cross over to the warmth and caring of their world. No surgeon can repair the damage. No psychiatrist or psychotherapist can put my fragmented soul back together again. I haven’t any second chances. No miracles appear to be waiting in the wings. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it. Can’t touch it. Can’t get there from here.
There are things that could make a difference. There are people who could as well. But I don’t live in their world and they don’t want to believe in the existence of mine. It’s too harsh and cold in this place where I exist. I would cause them too much inconvenience. Too much trouble. I am never worth the effort. The expense. The love. My flaws have robbed me of value.
I don’t mean to cast a dark shadow across their path. I don’t expect them to acknowledge me or throw a few coins in my direction. No one has to read my sign as I sit, lost, empty, hurting. I realize I am not their problem and they bear no responsibility here. I am but a speck in the eye, easily blinked away. The help I need is far beyond what most are capable of giving.
It’s a beautiful day. I can’t see it. I long to be set free. But I can’t find the words that will magically make everything change.