The Crosswalk

I saw a man shuffling slowly across a crosswalk earlier this evening. It was possible he was drunk, or maybe he had some sort of physical impairment. It was rush hour, and everyone except the man trying to make his way to the other side of the street seemed to be in a hurry.

His pace was one that tested even the longest of lights; he made it only slightly more than halfway before a left arrow light turned green, leaving him looking bewildered. Fortunately my fellow motorists saw him and we all took a collective step back. Not with honking, cursing or irritation — we just observed.

When he was fully across and the other lanes had their turn to go, people cautiously proceeded on their way. The man stood there on the corner, still looking more than a little confused. Had it not been for the familiar markings and digital displays of a crosswalk, I wasn’t so sure he’d ever have made it across.

Not too different from this evening’s scene is the one where we might feel a bit lost sometimes. Or maybe more than a bit — maybe a lot. Maybe it’s something that’s been years in the making, or maybe it’s a recent development. Regardless of its duration, it can feel like we’re strangers in a strange land; foreigners who don’t speak the native tongue. We know we should be able to, but we can’t. And we know that we won’t be able to — maybe for a while, maybe only for a day.

They say that if you’re going through hell, it’s best to keep going. And while we feel for others but never fully know how another person’s hell is ultimately defined, we know that ours is the one that consumes us. Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is all we need to do. In the end, the guides will show themselves, and we’ll make it across the crosswalk after what seems like an eternity. Patience will be shown by others — a form of encouragement in itself.

Tonight, after observing the scene that played out in front of me and which pressed the pause button on the rush hour noise, I am thankful for the quiet guidance that humanity was able to provide. I am thankful for the crosswalks — both literal and figurative — that we stumble across in life, for the path they reveal to us and for direction that’s occasionally spelled out when aimlessness is all we’re really able to feel.

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