We all touch the lives of strangers, whether we do so deliberately or not, simply by being social creatures. A genuine smile and passing greeting might well be the highlight of that one person’s day. We will never know.
Many years ago, at a time when I was struggling to keep my life together, I found the inner strength to make a positive contribution to one stranger’s life.
While walking through a carpark, I heard the sound of a person sobbing. Initially, I walked past the sound, too afraid of my own inability to cope with anything other than what constituted my own survival, to contemplate offering assistance. But I backtracked, and found a young intellectually impaired man sitting on an outdoor seat, crying into his hands. An older man, his friend? or carer? was trying to console his charge, to no avail.
I sat next to the young man and casually put my arm around his shoulders. He dropped his head to my shoulder, and sobbed. No words from any of us. The sobbing subsided, and he got up, turning to his male companion. They walked inside the Senior Citizens’ building to whatever function was underway.
That’s when I dissolved into tears. I strode off as swift as I could, desperate to avoid speaking to anyone.
I walked home alone, and lonely, in disbelief that I had actually managed to do something worthwhile for a stranger. Helping a face that I would never see again, stayed with me, and inspired me.