‘No better time to be alive’

By Sarah Duffy
November 12, 2004

Lori Iannella

The man to my left is well dressed, down to the out-turned lip on his Lugz boots. His yellow t-shirt and up-turned hat put off the impression he is stylish, but the dirt that has worn its way into his clothes gives quite another impression. I imagine that he did not plan for this to be the last outfit he put on that particular morning, months ago, and now it is caked with the dirt of the street and the exhaust of a world revolving around everything but him.

There is a sadness pouring from his face. It is not the kind of sadness that could be appeased with a smile or a hug or even the passage of time. It is a sadness that is soaked into dark circles around his eyes and the uncertainty of where to put his hands. He gets up to leave, then returns a minute later when he realizes he has no where to go. This continues over the course of three hours.

His Bassett-hound eyes, and big lips are the features of a face that is torn with pain, as he tries to shake the heroine detox from his aching limbs. My heart gets caught in the back of my throat, as I become ever more aware of my inability to take his pain away. I think it would be easier to be ignorant of this terrible reality, but I am not and what can I do?

I muster a sympathetic smile and ask if he is okay. At that moment there is a part of me that expects him to break down and open up, just so I could be there to say something simple like, it will be okay. But he doesn’t. He just folds his hands and lethargically nods, just once. What can I do?

I have come to know that in situations such as this where tragedy is staring you dead in the eyes and pure sadness is seeping into every part of your body, there is no better time to be alive. For happiness is dependent on a variety of factors, but sadness is as pure of an emotion as it gets.

It is from situations like that I have learned something about myself. That I can stare life back in the eyes, with no illusions or grand ideas about the way it’s supposed to be, or the way I want it to be, but just accept it for what it is.

It is wrong, that this man should live with such pain, and that, at this moment, he feels there is no hope or help for himself. When people continually turn their back on sadness, pretend that it doesn’t exist or cover it over with some grand fantasy about a world of sunshine and roses.

I don’t believe you can grow, or learn, or even really appreciate the sunshine and roses for what they really are, until you have experienced emotions that so counteract them.

There may be nothing I can do for this man, but to understand him. Appreciate him for all his mistakes and faults because his pain is as real as mine. If all I can do is muster a sympathetic smile, then that is all I can do.

Posted to the Web by Lori Iannella

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Sarah Duffy

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