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“Mother Theresa it up” is my new favorite phrase.

5 May 2009

A rainy Tuesday night. I’m feeling restless. The kind of restless where I’m whiney like a toddler. I’m hungry, but I don’t wanna eat that. I’m bored, but I don’t wanna go anywhere. I haven’t written yet today, but I don’t wanna blog.

But I made a commitment, dammit. So here I sit. Listening to some Otis Redding and the sounds of car tires on wet pavement outside.
I feel like the end of a tv drama episode.
Our protagonist sits in her kitchen, contemplating change, feeling out of place but not sure why. She wanders to the cabinet, sighs. Opens the fridge, sighs. Looks out the window, sighs.
If I smoked, I’d be smoking right now.
If I had some wine I’d be drinking it.

Hm. Well here’s something I thought about while running today. It’s more observation from my night at Coffee Ethic.

I don’t remember why it crossed my mind this morning. It could be the construction site on National just north of St. Louis. Trees have been cleared out, and now piles of dirt and debris are visible behind the now-bare chain-link fence. There’s a raised grass patch above the sidewalk, and a few lone wildflowers are growing. Every time I pass this spot, I think it would make an interesting photograph.
Nature vs. progress. Beauty vs. chaos.

Ok so my point… These flowers always make me pause, and for some reason make me a little sad. The following moment at Coffee Ethic made me sad, too.

It’s after 9:00 p.m., and a mother and young son come in and sit at the table nearest me. I have my earbuds in, but I can still catch bits of their conversation. The little boy is 8 or 9 at most. The mom, who can’t be much older than I am, speaks to him like she’s his peer. She carries a price cutter sack, out of which sticks a snorkel. (yes, a snorkel.) She reads a library book to him.
She yells at him about riding the bus, “I don’t care. That’s how we drive. We don’t have a car”. She and a friend compare photos on digital cameras.
And I’m collecting a lot of these overheard moments. What to do with them?

I’m not sure what their story is, but I’m trying not to let it overwhelm me. I tend to get a little too involved in the lives of strangers.
I want to help, but wonder what it is I can really do for them.

“You want to go to the square?” she says. “Tyler, put your hoodie on.” and they’re gone.
I wonder how often this little boy spends time in park central square at 10:00 on a school night.
I wonder what might wait for them at home, assuming they have one to go back to.
I feel helpless.
I know it would be patronizing to offer to pay for their muffin.
After all, what do i know—with my laptop and ipod and knockoff prada bag i bought in rome—about their situation.
I feel guilty, thinking about what I SHOULD do. How i own entire series of television on DVD, purely for my entertainment, and isn’t that a little extravagant, when there are eight-year-olds who sleep on the street…
Then I think, (to paraphrase) if i sell all i have and give to the poor, and don’t have love, it doesn’t matter.

Love is the one thing i do have. and a desire to make the world better. HOW is the tough part.
Going to quote Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser again. It’s just s’good!

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and social activist once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not the ideas that change the world but simple gestures of love given to the people around you. And often those you feel most at odds with. He said that in order to save the world you must serve the people in your life.

So. That’s not a totally specific answer.
YES, Sarah, you should sell all your possessions, move to India, and Mother Theresa it up for the rest of your life.
But it’s more helpful than hopeless apathy.
Love those around me. Serve them the best I can. This I can do.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. yupatuwah permalink
    5 May 2009 11:41 pm

    You have this way of scatter-braining yourself into a very fine blog entry. Well done.

  2. Hina Kabir permalink
    6 May 2009 4:19 am

    The ‘How’ part is always the toughest one…and may be the kick start to begin a never ending journey of life…i completely agree with you.
    Nice Blog by the way…

  3. 6 May 2009 3:47 pm

    Turns out this isn’t totally unrelated to your post!

    I Doubt you remember me…I’m the guy from The Kitchen who did the Deadpan Festival with the Skinny. Could you toss me an email? I tried the old email address I had, but it’s bouncing. My email is:
    jrobertson (at)

    I’d appreciate it!

  4. 6 May 2009 4:54 pm

    They have digital cameras and a snorkel, so they probably aren’t destitute. They are just car-less.

    If you move to India, I’ll take Jenskies.

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