Monday, August 29, 2011
The Universe is a Saucy Bitch (feat. Sassy Moses)
So, I am not yet in the land of milk and honey. In fact, I am still in the desert.
The reason I am posting again so soon is because I have just had a truly profound experience that needs to be recorded right away. This is one of those truly strange experiences that one doesn't easily forget. It is one of those times when you feel the universe screaming out to you, trying to tell you something. And as a scientist, I don't normally think of the universe as an entity capable of screaming, but sometimes, coincidences occur that truly baffle the mind.
Today was my last day at my job in the hospital in the city in the desert that has been my home for the past year and the next 24 hours. I was, surprisingly, feeling a bit nostalgic - it is only a job, and it's only a city that I have lived in for a year. I left my job without fanfare, and without saying goodbye to some of the people that perhaps I should have. Some people, people from adjacent labs, from the cafeteria, etc, are bit players in the story of my life, mere walk-on parts. But I will never see them again, and somehow that endows them with...weight, with significance for me. Illogical, but human nuature is illogical.
The boy seemed neither distraught nor elated - quite stoic. Putting the pieces together, I realized that this must be Tommy and his mother Delilah. HIPAA rules have discouraged me from bringing them up, but these are two people that I had learned of (but never met) earlier in my Desert year (their names here are pseudonyms). Without going in to too much detail, Tommy and Delilah are very poor. Completely poor. They live in squalor, and Tommy has been abused in the worst ways (not by Delilah), leaving him with severe psychological problems. Their story moved me deeply, but in the last 6 months, their path and mine parted ways, and I hadn't heard anything of them, or really thought of them since.
And all of a sudden, on my last day in this city, here they were on the bus with me. This strange coincidence put me into a state of heightened awareness and thought. I couldn't reach out to them due to HIPAA stuff, and even if I could, what would I do or say? I didn't have anything to offer them, although I wished more than anything at that moment that I was rich and I could just give them enough money to clamber out of poverty, or even to go get a nice lunch!
Now, an hour after writing that post, here he was on the frikkin bus with me! Absolutely eerie coincidence. And this after the already remarkable coincidence of seeing Tommy and his mom on the bus. I literally laughed to myself as I saw him get on the bus, just because it was so surreal. As we trundled down the avenue, I heard this Rain Man recount to the other passengers how he had survived leukemia, "by the grace of god".
Like a broken record, he repeated this story 7, 8, 9 times. He must be autistic. Either way, I quickly felt guilty. I didn't say anything terrible about the guy, but I still felt a little guilty at reducing him to a bulletpoint in a snarky blog post. (Does this mean an end to snarky blog posts? Hell no! What would I do with all my free time?!)
THEN, I looked over to my right, and noticed yet another bus passenger that I had seen before - a young man covered in gang tattoos, supremacy tattoos, 2 tears tattooed on his face, and four aces on his neck. A few weeks back, I had seen him on the bus, and wondered what the tears signified. Had he killed 2 men? Lost 2 loved ones?
All in all, I got this feeling that my life, my story, was flashing before my eyes, except in the form of these real people on a bus. The Meek (Tommy and Delilah), the Weird (Crazy Ziggy), and Death (Aces). What was the universe trying to tell me?
1) "Axl, don't forget about the people who need help. Even if you are a dirt poor Ramen-eater, there are people who are worse off than you. Do something once in a while. But overall, keep them in your mind."
2) "Axl, everybody has a story to tell. Take the time to know people rather than assume they are crazy old coots. Don't be a dick dude."
3) "Axl, the time you have is precious. Don't waste it."
So yeah. That's wassup. Mind: blown.