I have a favorite panhandler who has been around for years and easy to spot along the side of the freeway exit. He smiles and waves emphatically as if he is a sports hero waving to fans. He accepts money with such gratitude and says ‘God bless you.’ He runs car to car with such a bounce in his step, he feels like he is saying, here I am begging for money and I am grateful and joyful at the chance. When I project myself into his shoes, I can only feellike my shoulders would slump, head down to avoid eye contact. But as I sit with cold air conditioning blasting in my car what do I know of his experience?
I think his lesson is multi-faceted. He owns his predicament and allows himself to be seen. It is challenging to own things that leave us feeling bad about ourselves or experiences that don’t end up being “successful” or “mistakes” we have made. How can we find ways to own them and our attitude about them as well? What would it be like to hold a sign up and say, “I messed up” and wave my arms and let everyone see me? And I am going to smile about it, because I completely accept myself in the midst of this.
And I am going to smile and keep my heart open because I completely accept myself just as I am.
He also reminds me to take stock in all my blessings. It’s almost as if his presence reminds me how blessed I am. He shows me that it is okay to be just who I am, wave my arms, tell the world. Teachers come in all forms and he will continue to remind me of our innate power of things we choose, like our attitude.