- Today I share with you a passage from my book The Old Man on the Bench: A Beautiful Day. The World is broken – but we have it within ourselves to ‘fix ‘ it.
ABOUT THE HUMAN RACE
I woke up early. The truth is, I didn’t have to wake up too much – because I was on the verge of sleep – if there is such a thing. My mind worked overtime and what complicated matters, as a sensitive person, is that I was somewhat able to capture a lot of images and sentiment linked to specific events which marked our lives this past week.
We had the incredible privilege of listening to Eva Olsson. At 94, this spunky and out-spoken woman is one of our last remaining survivors of the Holocaust. She came to our communities, sharing her experiences about what she had faced, but while she had every right to be angry, to be bitter and to ‘hate’ – the message that she offered was entirely different. She spoke of bullies and acceptance. She voiced that it was ok to be different – but that it was NEVER okay to be indifferent in the face of adversity. As the slides rolled on and you could witness in her eyes how she traveled into her heart and memories, she repeated how important it is to realize that we are not living in a world with differences – but that we have ONE race: the human race. “Perhaps,” she said, “if we give ourselves a chance to learn from each other, we will never experience something as horrible as these events. NEVER use the word HATE she emphasized. Never go to bed angry because things change in a moment.”
Fast forward a few hours, where somewhere in Saskatchewan, a bus full of teenagers was traveling to get to a hockey game. An accident happened. In a straightforward instant, multiple lives were lost. Fifteen individuals found their wings and the others were injured. In a swift candid moment – complete lives were destroyed. Moments like these affect individuals, their families, and friends. A whole country mourns with, and for people, we have never met. Such events mark strangers: we are, after all, Canadians and we hold each other in times of happiness and of incredible sorrow.
As I read the news and watched the footage, I sobbed. I still am as I write this short note. I teach kids that very same age. They share some of the very same dreams, have been playing hockey with the very same teammates for years. They are the kids who waste time in class and don’t want to read that French novel or write that essay. They are the kids who jump around and make others laugh. However, they’re also students with an incredible heart and soul. They are MY students: someone’s child, someone’s grandchild, someone’s friend. We’re all connected somehow – because we share so much in a day, whether directly or in a passage. Tomorrow, I’ll remember to have just a little more patience. In the long run – the sentences that they will read or write won’t matter – what will be the connections that I will have cultivated through our exchanges about such devastating moments – and how to stay resilient and help those who need our support – even if we don’t personally know them.
We live in a very poetic world. At times, there is great sadness, and we lose ourselves in moments that do not matter. I’m no different. We pick fights which should have never come about, we emphasize details that do not matter – and then we move on – as if nothing matters – but the truth is – it does. Every little intention that we put out there is essential. As Eva said: “to change one person is to improve the World. To send our thoughts and light to families we have never met, in our community or throughout the World, can change the World. Words and ideas have power.” As I look outside, I see the Moon is heading off to her corner as the sun begins to rise at the other edge of the sky. Poetry in Nature, reminding us that after darkness, light always shines. On cloudy days, remember that the sun is behind the clouds and somewhere sending out its warmth and hope of a better day.
This morning, love a little more. Love those whom you know – and send love to those you haven’t yet met or forgiven. If you love someone – tell them. Show them. Stop focusing on things that do not matter. Let things go. Move on if you must but don’t give hate the chance to live within yourself. Get angry but let things go. Life is short but if you live every moment with intention and with light in mind – you’ll have a great one.
One race: the human race. Let’s be a united one in our families, in our communities, and our country. Please send thoughts to those who need them. Send Hope to those who have lost it. Send Love to the lonely and broken ones.
Please pass it on.
Message from the Old Man: “In a world plagued with fear and negativity, we find ourselves seeking answers in the most unlikely places. Many of us travel the World in the hopes of finding refuge and of perhaps shifting our thought patterns which, of course, is a useful tactic in the short run. However, to truly change ourselves, we must go within our heart and Spirit – in what is our true essence”.