Shared Humanity- We’re All In This Together
On a cold and snowy morning, somewhat long ago, teenage-me was dropped off in front of my high school. I waved goodbye to my mom, dad, or brother, whomever was in the car. I stepped onto the sidewalk, approached the front doors, and promptly slipped on ice.
You don’t have to know me well to get the sense that I am a sensitive person. Perhaps you notice my courage first, but really, the most courageous of folks are those who face difficult feelings. In that moment, I can tell you what stung the most was not my bruised butt, rather, the tears in the corners of my eyes. I was much less concerned with my well-being than with what people might be thinking. I kept my head down, not wanting to know if they were laughing.
I put my hands on the frozen ground and tried to get up. In slapstick fashion, I slipped again. And again! Ice has a way of gripping its victims as if with gelatinous tentacles! Prey is pulled down time and again, subjected to utmost humility.
I don’t remember how I got off the sidewalk and into school that day. I don’t remember who saw me floundering, or what they said. I don’t remember if my skirt flew up or my tights got soaked. I’m not still sprawled in front of a Kansas high school, so I somehow got through it. And I imagine someone, stranger or friend, extended a hand to help me up.
There are ways of falling that are not physical. Our posteriors aren’t our only vulnerable parts. I have tripped over my heart and gotten stuck in intentions. I’ve stumbled over words and become lost in fear. That feeling of being grounded, and unable to get up, that is hopelessness.
Can you remember the last time you tripped on life? I can. Even as I recall it, I feel sick in my guts. The more I tried to get up, the more dizzy I became, and I’m still not sure how I found balance. I have an idea, though, that as we skate clumsily through life, it is only the extended hand of shared humanity that steadies and saves us.
The next time I slip, I hope I’ll choose to look up. The next time I see someone fall, I hope I’ll choose to reach out. How else can we make it, after all?