When Did We Grow Numb?

I’ve been carrying sadness in my heart.

When I focus on what lead to this sadness I get angry, and by the end of the retelling of the story or when I recall that moment, sadness comes over me again.

On Monday, I wrote about frustrations that are calling me to reboot my life to bring in new energy. Today’s post addresses one of those frustrations.

One late Sunday afternoon, I went down town for a meditation that I wanted to to go for a long time. I got to the neighborhood of the location early, to find a good, safe parking spot. As I walked to the location, the streets were alive. A farmers market was a block away. People were lined up at bus stops waiting for the bus to arrive. Others sat in windows and patios or bars. While others walked as they enjoyed what appeared to be a leisurely day.

I was steps away from the location, as I crossed the street and cleared the intersection, my left foot did not clear the curb. I knew, in that moment, I was going to fall, because my center of gravity was forward and I was carrying my purse and a tote bag. My left knee hit the concrete first, the continued forward motion brought my hands to the ground.  The instant sting of my hands and the rush of pain to my knees brought me all the way down to the ground. I was on my side by this point.

Because of how quick the fall happened and how hard it was, I was a little disoriented. I took a second to focus and get present in the moment. I felt nothing but physical pain as I did this, which slowed me down from getting up quickly. I don’t know why, but I decided to wait to see if someone would help me get up. At the same time, I hoped someone wold help me get up. After a beat I knew, no one would come. So, I got up slowly, I wasn’t embarrassed by my fall, I was disappointed and I wanted to look around to see who saw the fall and didn’t do anything.

I didn’t have to look far. To my left, only a few feet away was a man walking in my direction. He was frozen. I don’t know if he saw me fall, or if he was coming to help or just walking blindly in my direction. I looked him in the eye and I said I’m fine. Then I walked to my destination.

If I didn’t describe how bad this fall was here is aftermath of my aliments. There are no cuts on my hands but I have a bruise on my knee, my knee can’t bend fully and I have a deep rug burn that is now scabbed. My hips feel off balance and I think my knee is swollen.

There is something called the “bystander effect” which states that we are more likely to help others that look like us.

I thought that it usually applies to stressful situations like robberies and fist fights. But when someone simply falls, does the bystander effect still apply? Have we all grown cold? Have we forgotten to be kind to each other? Or are just more self-absorbed that we forget about the world around us?

When I looked around I wanted to see who was present and who was looking at their phones, but seeing that man that was frozen was enough. How often do we freeze or do nothing when someone is in need? Our world will continue to struggle, until we get back to kindness, love and compassion.

As I thought about that day, this past week, I started to understand the kind things people have said to me over the years. Their words have always been jarring to me, because I feel I’m just being human or better stated humane. “Thank you for listening, being supportive, not judging me, being easy to talk to…thank you for carring”, people have told me.

This year continues to show me a communal need which I see clearly and want to help. I’ve been waiting on the universe to show me  “how” and that has been one of my biggest frustrations. The other is the level of urgency I see and amount of need that continues to grow. This experience was an example of that need.

I have decided to create spaces for trust and community to grow, the old fashion way, through storytelling. This may not be the big “how” but it’s the how that I know I can do right now. It’s a how that I have been thinking about for three months and one I need to embrace despite fear and doubt.

My life has been frustrating this year, because I now understand that the universe wants to move through me and I want to drop everything and respond to that call. In patience, I prepare my life to fully rise up to be a woman of action but this time, not for myself and my growth but the for the strength and health of others and the community at large. I trust that this how, will lead me to the next.

Community starts with love and I have a lot to give.

Love – Stephanie XO

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