Monday, 2 June 2014

Ordinary People.

Ordinary people leading ordinary lives struggling to live within their means and seldom asking why.
I saw a twenty-something this morning. She works in Pizza Hut as a counter staff. I suspect she's single. Dressed in her work attire, with a boyish cap, she walked mindlessly with her head bowed. I wonder how's her life. What keeps her up at night and wakes her up in the morning. The irony about her attire is that she was neat in appearance, spic and span. Not a wrinkle in her uniform. Nothing was out of place from where I'd observed her. But somehow, her face didn't register the same orderliness as her appearance. She looked pensive, troubled, even resigned to life.
I dread to think that she might have felt like a victim in a cage of monotony and routine; lost in a concrete jungle of helping her bosses to realize their dreams and never her own. She might even have stopped dreaming because the dreams of ordinary people often remain nothing more than wishful thinking. Statistically, most of them will go to their grave with their dreams stillborn as they live their years dream-walking to work.
Ordinary people leading ordinary lives struggling to live within their means and seldom asking why.
I was walking towards state courts last week and I came across a group of teenagers. They were ordinary kids with ordinary issues of life. But one teenaged girl stood out for me. She was sweet looking and reminded me of my 8-year-old daughter. Yet, something was not quite right about her. She was smoking effortlessly, puffing out rings of smoke like a Caucasian cowgirl would twirl lasso in the air. She also had tattoos in her arms and was spewing out vulgarities as if she owned the language.
I dread to think how she thinks. I can't say that she is mature, at least not for her age. I tried to remain hopeful about her future but my optimism
 belied a quiet unsettling concern. I stereotyped her with apology quite unavoidably. Broken home? Divorced parents? School bully? Cruel discrimination? Neglected childhood? Deep inside, I know she is crying out to be noticed, to be loved, and to be understood. But life seldom performs the extraordinary for the majority of the ordinary. Life doesn't go out of her way to do good deeds, so to speak. 
Life in fact often pass them by in the same way that Lady justice often pound
 her gavel on the side which seems to favor the privileged few. So I guess the teenaged girl would just have to live her life the best way she knows how. Let's just hope she comes to her senses and turns back from the slippery slope she is currently trudging on.
Ordinary people leading ordinary lives struggling to live within their means and seldom asking why.
The other day, I saw a mother
 pushing her two sons to preschool. One was bouncing around, running with so much energy. He was talkative too, engaging his mother almost endlessly. Then, I saw the other son. He was confined to a wheelchair. He was silent most of the time, but smiling. The contrast couldn't be more stark, and painful. He had the most disarming and yet unsettling smile as if he wanted more than anything to join his brother in his wild traipsing.
But he knew he couldn't. He knew he can't. I
 doubt he knows why though. Not yet at least. But one day he will. And when that day comes, I pray that he will come to understand that life plays no favorites. I also pray he realizes that he can't choose the life he wants to be born into in the same way that his mother can't choose the person she wants her son to be. Sometimes, control and free will are an illusion just like hope can be misleading, trust can be betrayed, and passion can be fleeting. He will just have to accept his lot in life and move forward, notwithstanding. But he is not without help or hope though. It was at this time that I caught a glimpse of his mother. An ordinary woman in her forties in old frumpy ordinary clothes.
I saw her weary eyes and her jaded small frame. She looked like someone who had beaten down a giant, driven through a storm, and journeyed past a lifetime. Strangely, she was not the least distraught; at least not in the way one would have expected her to be. She never failed to smile back when you smile at her. She knew 
reciprocity and hers was warmth and infectious. I guess she had what most less ordinary (or highly privileged) people want, or need to have, and that is the gift of resilience.
It is a gift that life gives to those who have the indelible scars of living to show. And it is a rare gift that life gives most sparingly because it comes only at the end of a hard-fought struggle. This gift waits for those who have braved through their own personal pain with hope and faith. It is a gift that stays with you for life and rewards you with 
the emotional and mental hardiness against the furnace of life. It is an enduring gift and blessed are those upon whom it is bestowed.
There you have it, ordinary people leading ordinary lives struggling to live within their means and seldom asking why. 

I guess they seldom ask why because they are not looking for handout (or at least, not expecting it to come any day in their way). They are just dealing with the unrelentingly raw reality that each day brings.
 And in dealing with it, their hope is to be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard-fought labor just for that brief window of every day. And these treasured moments are condensed in the privacy of their homes where they can be themselves, in the quiet thrill of clocking out from work, in the passing laughter they share with friends, in the savoring of the sweet smiles across the faces of their kids, and in the restful sleep they fully deserve at the end of a very tiring day. Cheerz.

* Image from ""

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