Failed Human Stories

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Shared Wisdom | 0 comments

There is nothing more beautiful than a failed human story” – Ekhart Tolle

Spiritual teacher and author, Ekhart Tolle, describes the process of awakening as the failure of our human stories.  The life we create and trust to be stable and predictable is really a fragile and temporary reality.  The failure of our story looks like circumstances gone wrong, breakdowns, bottom outs, disease, left hooks out of nowhere that bring us to a place of humility.  Put simply, the failure of life to meet our expectations.

Just today, I was walking back to my car after a recent job interview immersed in my own failed human story.  As petty as this may sound, I recently had to get a part-time job to supplement my income to support my family. Yes, many people do this everyday but for me it is an ending to a story that was titled, “I can do this on my own, dammit!”  My failed human story in action sounds like, “What happened, Jenn?  You have advanced degrees, your own business, what the hell!”  “Why can’t you make this work?” My mind was mulling over my current situation and doing the math.  Wages, time away from my kids, how will I do this?  How will I make it?  This is not what I expected my life to look like.  But here I am.

Out of the mind bullshit I hear, “Excuse me Maam. I don’t mean to bother you, and I’m really sorry for stopping and asking you to talk to me.”  The man walked toward me from underneath a small shade tree.  It was almost 100 degrees and we were both working up a sweat. He was clearly uncomfortable, shifting from one side to the other.  He was nicely dressed, clean cut, but completely exhausted. He raised his head and looked at me. “I’ve never done this before,” he said as the tears began to well up in his eyes.  He was trembling, stammering, looking at the ground.  “You see Maam, I’m a former Marine, and I did my service to this country.  And I know you might judge me but I just got out of prison.“  His eyes filled with grief and embarrassment. “I’m sorry.  I’ve never done this before.”

I stopped him and said, “It’s OK.  What’s your name?”  “Leon” he said.  I shook his hand and said, “My name is Jenn.”

Chocking back the tears, he continued.  “You see I just got out of prison, and I’m staying down at the Rescue Mission.  I finally have my son there with me now. “  He took a step back, unable to continue.  Tears rolled down his cheeks.  “I know we all have problems, but…”

“You need help today,” I said.  “Yes, Maam.  I do need help.  I’ve made mistakes in life, and I’m trying to do right by my son.  He’s staying with me now, and I just got him back. I’m trying to get my life together.  I never do this.  I can’t believe I’m crying in front of you.”  My heart sank seeing this proud Marine, new parolee , a strong man crumbling in front of me.  I took his hand and said, “It’s alright.  You’re very brave for doing this.”

Fumbling to get the words out, Leon stammered, “All I need is $11.37 for my son and I to be able to go spend the day together.  I know you don’t know me but…”

“Enough said,” and I gave him my last $20.00 without hesitation.   He took the money and shaking said, “Oh my God!  Praise Jesus.  I didn’t know you were coming. You are an Angel.  I thank God for you.”  I hugged him tight and said from my heart, “You are loved.  Remember that.”   I think I said that for both of us. Then I took his hand, thanked him for meeting me, and said, “I’ve never been on this street before.  God brought us together so that I could meet you today.  Thank you, Leon”

We parted ways, and walking to my car, I looked back to see Leon on his knees in the middle of the sidewalk.  He was sobbing, saying out loud, “Thank you, Jesus.”  As I drove off, I watched this broken man straighten his shoulders and walk forward into life wiping tears from his eyes.  I took a deep breath, feeling the amazing miracle that just occurred.  All it took was $20.00 to make such a difference.  Just $20.00.

Two people meeting on a sidewalk, both in our failed stories.  Two single parents doing our best to care for our children.  Two humbled people needing help.  Two human beings at the gateway of a new beginning.

Awakening is everywhere, in all circumstances. We are all failed human stories colliding at absurd moments to open to the possibility that we are not alone.

God Bless you Leon, wherever you are.  Thank you for your failed story. You are the Angel.  You are beautiful.

Leave a Reply