This morning I was riding the subway into work as per my usual. I had my headphones in and my eyes were glued to the pages of a book for most of the journey; Toronto style. Nearing my stop, I dog-eared my page and gathered my stuff to prepare to get off. Just as I did so I watched a girl sitting across from me extend a long stick into its full position and I realized she was visually impaired.
She was younger than I am and travelling alone to one of the busiest parts of Toronto. I watched her make her way across the moving subway to the door. She used her long red stick to find her way, but as she approached the door and navigated through the throng of people she used her hands to feel her way. She approached the doorway and a teenage boy was seated just next to it with his skateboard propped up in his lap. She grabbed the board, then her hand clutched and spun a wheel as she tried to sort out what she’d encountered. The boy watched quietly as she did so. I watched as he hesitated, unsure of what to do.
Then, something beautiful happened. He reached up and gently took her by the wrist and placed her hand on the subway bar so that she could anchor herself near the door just as we squealed to a stop. They didn’t speak. She smiled in appreciation and when the subway came to a stop and the doors flew open, she walked through them in a sea of bodies in a rush to get everywhere.
Raw human kindness.
One person helping another person out in a compassionate way not to gain recognition for his efforts but to be kind. That’s the way I saw it. The shaggy-haired, baggy clothed teenager had reached out figuratively and literally and unquestioningly the girl without sight trusted his direction and let herself be guided. I stared at him for a minute. He looked no different than anyone else sitting in that little car but he’d done something I bet many others would have veered away from entirely. He reached out.
I wonder how many of us would unflinchingly trust the actions of someone like the shaggy haired guy? I wonder if I’d have the guts to lay my hands on a complete stranger and guide them the way he had?
In the midst of life’s complications and the shade of every nuance that alter’s perception and sometimes by extension the direction of this journey we’re on, there is so much beauty around the light of human kindness. There is so much to be gained from being in this together.