Yesterday I talked to a man who had only one leg. He came rolling into the Vision Centre in his wheel chair with a beaming broad smile on his face. It was a smile so fiercely beautiful I had to smile back. I don’t know how anyone who looked at him could hope to do otherwise.
While his glasses were being adjusted, cleaned and repaired, (all the helpful mundane things we do all day), we had one of those little chats that strangers are prone to having. Is it getting any warmer out there as the day goes on? Do you ever remember a spring so late? He told me it was snowing again and he said it with such delight. You should come out to the parking lot and see it! All those gigantic flakes just floating down. You can catch them on your glove – they’re like tiny bits of lace. Fragile, but captivating and wonderful to look at. So perfect it’s amazing!
But in my head I could see our driveway, and the snow shovel, and the banks and the horrible roads. So I gave my head a shake to get rid of those pictures in it. I said we don’t think to look at the fascinating side of things often enough, do we? It’s so easy to focus on the negative instead. But you’re right, this kind of gentle snowfall has a certain charm if only we choose to see it.
I didn’t look at the place where his left leg should have been, although my eyes wanted to. I didn’t let them. I didn’t ask him how long he’d been without it, or how hard it might be to get himself dressed in the morning and in and out of a vehicle and across a snowy rutted parking lot. And what do you do with all those left boots and shoes and pant legs? How horrible has your life been and how hard was this to accept?
I said none of those things that were in my head, because we were just two ordinary people having an ordinary conversation, being pleasant and accepting of each other the way we happen to be at this moment, no deep introspections required. He got his glasses back and he was on his way.
All afternoon I kept thinking good thoughts about snowflakes. I thought about those airy little bits of lace, there for a moment on the back of his glove, and how they made his face so blissful. His mood was so intoxicating, I wanted to give him a hug and thank him for that.
But I didn’t. I wish I had.