Monday, August 9, 2010

Missed Opportunity

As I was folding my tent and taking down camp, they returned. The man and his sons were doing some male bonding - camping at the lake and getting up to go fishing at 6 am. While I applauded this, I was a bit put out that they left their 10 pound yippy dog in their RV to bark from the time of their departure to their return. I was reflecting on curtesy and kindness and how that has changed in my lifetime.

I was raised in a family with "old fashioned" values. As a child my dad and grandfather always made sure that when we walked down the street that I (or any woman) was on the inside of the sidewalk. What horrors it was to grow up and find that the young men somewhat interested in me lacked the basic social skills for walking down the street or opening a door for a lady.

Having a big dog, I have found myself pulled down as Arayo has taken chase after a cat that I hadn't seen and wasn't prepared for. Laying on the ground with what could be a broken wrist, the men (and women) around me didn't stop to ask if I'm okay, or to help me to my feet. When did this callousness take place? Are we just too busy these days to offer a bit of kindness to someone in distress?

Have I, too, become jaded and don't notice or help a stranger in need?

The road is winding and the shoulders non-existent. As I peak a hill, I notice a man with a big beard and straw hat walking. A few yards beyond is a broken wagon filled with lumber, and a horse tied to trees nearby. I drive on. I don't know the man, can't help with his horse and don't know if he would even accept a ride. Besides, I have to meet with someone tonight up the road.

Another hill, and I kick myself in the head. This journey of mine is about slowing down and getting back to something more real. I don't have time NOT to see what I can do. I turn the car around and pass the site of the broken wagon. A car is behind me so I slow and pull over so he can pass me, knowing I'm going to stop in a moment to offer the gentleman a ride. As we near the walking man, I'm saddened to see the car ahead of me pull over and the gentleman hop in with the driver. I bet the man with the cart had an interesting story to tell.

I flip the car around and head back towards my destination. I slow as I pass the horse and worry a bit about it - tied so closely to the road - but I assume the owner knew how to secure it. As drive on, contemplating if there is something I can do, red truck approaches from the other direction, pulls over and stops to check on the horse.

Maybe, at least in the farmlands of Pennsylvania, kindness is abundant after all.

Photo: I'm enchanted by the fields and beautiful barns I see as I cross this country.

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