Amid All the Noise

Lately I feel there’s a lot of noise out there. I’m browsing through my twitter feed and it seems that everyone is up in arms about, well, everything.  I don’t want to perpetuate the ugly sound by lamenting my frustration here but I just wondered…do you hear it too?

I’m trying to maintain an almost meditative focus these days — on the words I’m writing and the words I’m reading. I’m reimagining my days. 
On Sunday night, I sat on the subway.  Having already finished a book, I was involved in a children’s math game on my phone  (I was multiplying.  For real.) A young man stepped on the train to ask for money and food for his daughters, his grandmother, himself.  Unlike the many panhandlers I see and hear each day, he was well-spoken and well-dressed, his speech rehearsed but sincere.  A middle-aged woman, who sat across from me, said to him, When you’re finished collecting money, come speak to me.

I’ll admit.  I was curious.  I strained to listen while I multiplied but their conversation was intimate, thoughtful, the depth and concentration of it, almost mystical.  When I got off, they got off, and as I waited to transfer to my next train, they stood beneath the stairs in the heat of this conversation.
I wasn’t meant to hear their words but I overheard snippets, the work of her rehabilitation, the daughters he loved, an education somehow lost and then found, for both of them.  And in the end, an exchange of information between them.  
In all of my years living in New York, of the thousands of people (it has to be thousands, after all these years) I see begging on the train and in the streets, I have never in my life witnessed anyone reach out in this way. To tell a story.  To listen to one.  I see something in you, I heard her say.

I wondered what the gift of this moment could mean. For both of them. For me.

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14 thoughts on “Amid All the Noise

  1. Beautiful random act of kindness!

    Most of my twitter feed seems negative too, people seem to see it as a place to complain or express displeasure, so I actually made a list called “I Like You” that has only those who *don't* complain 90% of the time.

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  2. One of my friends and I instant message each other throughout the workday and we always try to find non-crappy news to send to each other b/c the majority of stuff out there is so depressing. Sometimes all we have to share are funny cat pics, but that's good enough for me 🙂

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  3. I have seen kindness like this before and always I thought how beautiful it was and how sad that people can be in a situation that they needed to beg, but I glad such kind people exist even just temporary.

    hope you have a great day.

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  4. What a gift to see love personified. Astonishing, and something to treasure!

    And yes, I hear too many words…too many! So we cut our t.v. and I don't use twitter at all…it's my attempt of disengage from the endless information. I'm retreating…and I'm o.k. with that. 🙂

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  5. That was such a beautiful story. I've never been to New York, but I love seeing it through your eyes and writing. I also love the sweet interchange in this story, and watching from a distance as you did. Thanks for making me think…about so many different roles we each play in this day-to-day life.

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