He was holding a small, tattered sign, poorly scribed with the words, "I am homeless. Any help you could give, please. Thank you." Standing on the roadside in shabby, stained clothes and with a look of sadness in his eyes, cars passed him by one after another.
I didn't have much myself. Nothing in my pockets, things have been tight. But I had a handful of change for tolls and parking in the console. I rolled down my window and handed him the little I had on me.
"I hope this will help you," I said as I extended the money to him.
"Yes, thank you sir. Thank you very much."
I left my hand extended as a gesture of good will. He took it and shook it as the wind caught his sign and it flapped limply in the breeze. "Good luck, my friend. Best wishes to you."
He smiled and thanked me again.
I continue on my way to my destination. To spend time with my children. I pondered his situation. Left to the desperation of pan-handling at the end of an exit ramp from the inbound expressway. I wondered if he has children. If he has family. What has led him to this point in his life?
The situations of my life over the past few years have grown dark. Darker than I could ever foresee them being years before. Through it all though, I have managed to maintain... a home. In fact, two homes. It has been a struggle at times, for sure. I have had to make difficult decisions, face difficult situations and still carry on. But recently, my situations have helped me realize I am far off of the path I started down just six years ago. A path to become the man I want to be - for myself, for my children, for...
But sometimes we need our eyes to be forced open, to see that we have strayed off of that path. Sometimes we think we're on it, but blindly we're just wandering and losing sight of where we need to be. This is a challenge - and a daunting one. How to become the person you want to be, to balance life, to give of yourself, to strive for goals, to be a good partner, to change the world... and still not lose yourself on the way.
I sit here now reflecting on where I am. I have real opportunities in front of me now; definite opportunities to change my life, to get back on that path... to find myself, and find the happiness I once thought I had found.
I was wrong. I was lost. I lost my way.
It isn't so easy to become the man you want to be. My expectations are high, and the odds are against me. But, who doesn't love an underdog? I am the dark horse in this race against myself, my life, my time... The dark horse that won't stop running.
Did the man I helped just give up on running?
I can't. I won't.
And I won't lose those parts of myself.
My friend Randy recently told me that my giving nature and my generosity are an admirable curse. I give, often too much when I don't have enough for me. Not enough resources, not enough time, not enough emotional strength, yet I seek to support others because that is who I am. He suggested I stop, until I am at a place of abundance and can take care of me first, before I help others.
Kind of like putting that oxygen mask on yourself before helping the other passengers, right?
Unfortunately I may never have the right abundance Randy was referring to. But I have a lot. The love of my children. The drive to be a better person. The courage to face my fears and never quit. The talents, intelligence and creativity to make it all possible. Endless love, and a passion for the work I do and the people I believe in. Things that cannot be taught, given or taken away.
I have an abundance of these things, and I appreciate my abundance.
So even if it is just loose change, I will give and do what I can to make the world a better place, while focusing on making myself a better man. Find the balance, find happiness and become who I have been working on becoming.
This dark horse has a lot of kick left. Don't tear up your tickets until the race is over.