Are Your Prayers Being Answered In Unexpected Ways?
by Jeannette Maw
It was a daring rescue, one that required courage, faith, and conviction. Not just anyone could have pulled off this rescue attempt. It was not for the faint of heart or those with a queasy stomach. It was me at the bus stop, after work—wearing a permanent “leave-
I waited for my bus, holding my satchel full of things that made me who I was: my HP calculator, that was used primarily to determine how soon I could pay off the mortgage, a Franklin Day Planner, filled with dreaded work appointments, a security card, gaining me access to living hell every Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, and a litany of emergency aids: a photo of my deceased dog, Bach’s 911 flower essence, and phone numbers of friends and family who would have helped if they’d had any idea how.
Most people knew to keep their distance. I was a walking zombie, given up on the joys of life, relegated to a life of drudgery and disappointment.
Every day after 5, we lined up outside the downtown office buildings to catch our public transport ride home, where we spent the remaining hours escaping empty and joyless lives with processed food and mindless TV. This had been my life for more years than I care to say, and I was so deep in the rut that I wasn’t even aware of it.
Was everyone as miserable as me? They certainly looked it. Who knows for sure, though, as none of us really spoke.
But one Tuesday afternoon something different happened.
An irate client had delayed my departure from the bank where I worked as a 401k administrator. I missed my 5:10 bus. I would have to wait for the next one. What struck me was that everyone catching the next bus was the same as on the other bus: no one talked and no one smiled. Are we all this miserable always?
Ten minutes ‘til the next bus. That’s when it happened.
A stranger broke protocol. He spoke to me.
At least, I thought that’s what happened. A stranger talking to me? Could I have that right?? Doesn’t he know we don’t talk? Not here, not now. Especially not to strangers! Maybe, if you’ve got a co-worker at the same stop, you exchange a few sentences about how awful work is, but that’s about it. Strangers don’t talk!
At first, it was so odd that someone would speak to me that I didn’t comprehend his words. My brain scrambled to compute the input. Sure enough, a strange man was addressing me, and he was doing it in a friendly tone.
What was going on here? Who could be friendly to someone as closed off and shut down as me? My body language, the frown on my face, the creases in my forehead, my complete lack of animation – obviously I was toast. The working dead. There were no pleasantries to be found here. He must be insane.
I took pity on the crazy man, who was obviously in a bad way himself. His clothes were dirty and well worn, his hair scraggly. He hadn’t shaved in a while. He carried a guitar case. And had piercing blue eyes.
He had sat down on the sidewalk. Definitely crazy, doesn’t he know how dirty that cement is? People spit here! The strange homeless man looked up at me as he spoke.
He asked where I worked. Is he kidding? He expects me to talk to him? I was self-conscious about talking to a homeless person in front of my colleagues. I knew the rule about no talking at the bus stop, so I just nodded in the direction of the bank. My lack of verbal response didn’t deter him. He assumed I was a teller, and asked if I liked it.
He was too naive, friendly and open to completely ignore. He didn’t have any guard up. He had no defenses. I’d never met anyone like this. “Well,” I told him, “I don’t like it, but it’s a good job and I’m lucky to have it.”
“If you don’t like it, how does that make you lucky to have it?” he wondered out loud.
“Well, it pays the bills.” Duh. Obviously he wouldn’t know about bills.
It was a good job. I’d worked hard for it. I was the envy of many friends. They would have loved this job. High profile, good pay. That’s how I know I’m lucky.
And so there I was chatting with this homeless man who was sitting on the sidewalk. After a few minutes, he asked if he could play a song for me. The strangeness of it all was perplexing, and since I’d already broken the rule of not talking at the bus stop, I told him I would love to hear a song. And he played one! Strange man.
He was not overly talented, but I commended him highly and thanked him with a sincere smile. I hadn’t broken one of those out in a while. He was a strange one, that’s for sure. Sweet and innocent, perhaps even intelligent, I couldn’t tell for sure. But more than anything he struck me as “free.” Very odd thing to think of someone who admitted he owned nothing but a guitar and a case.
He introduced himself formally, but I’ve forgotten his name. We even shook hands when I told him mine. And that was when he made his daring rescue attempt.
This strange, homeless man asked me to join him on the road, traveling the country, playing music for tips. For a good 45 seconds, he animatedly described where we would go, how we would get there, what little we needed and how fun it would be. He said he would play guitar, and I would sing.
That’s when I burst out laughing! The ridiculousness of the invitation was so obvious that the mere thought alone made me laugh out loud. Now I knew he was crazy. What was he thinking?? I couldn’t sing!! I couldn’t carry a note to save my life!
And I told him so. He didn’t miss a beat. “Okay, then you’ll play the tambourine.”
My bus pulled up at that exact moment.
I told him I couldn’t join him on the road, but wished him all the luck in the world, and thanked him again for the lovely song. I didn’t tip him. I mostly hoped he wouldn’t follow me.
And he didn’t. He stood there at the bus stop (he had risen in his effort to compel me to stay), incredulous that I would turn down his attractive and generous offer.
On the ride home, I realized something was very wrong. How is it that my reason for not joining Mr. Blue Eyes on a cross-country road trip was that I couldn’t sing? I couldn’t SING? What kind of reason is THAT? What about my home? My job? My life? Weren’t those the reasons I couldn’t join him?
I realized they weren’t. Instead I found myself wondering what if I could sing. And what about the tambourine? Maybe that would work. The thought of leaving it behind … the mortgage, the daily grind, the monotony, the falseness of it all … hmm, it held strong appeal.
I wondered if I could find him again.
And thus began my questioning. Where had I gone so wrong that abandoning this little life of mine was so appealing? What had I done to myself? How did I get here? And, more importantly, how do I get out?
My homeless friend that day accomplished something that years of personal development books and workshops had not. I began to believe there was another way for me. I began to realize the way I had chosen wasn’t really my way after all. I began to realize the importance of correcting my path. And I learned that talking to strangers at the bus stop could be a good thing.
It didn’t happen overnight, but the conversation that sunny, Tuesday afternoon changed my life. My new friend’s rescue attempt was eventually successful. He had awoken me to new possibilities. He had sparked within me a desire for a different life – a new life. He had shown me the way.
From that point on I questioned everything. It started with work. Why did I feel lucky to have a job I didn’t like? What would “lucky” really look like for me? And how could I build that?
Slowly but surely (because I’m a rising Capricorn, and we do it that way), I plotted my exit. I planned a new future. I put together a safety net. I created an alternate plan for my life. And every day I stood at that bus stop, thinking of my friend, sans tambourine player, and I recommitted to a new life.
People who knew me back then don’t recognize me now. People who know me now can’t imagine me ever having been so miserable. It’s a whole new life, a whole new me. I can hardly wipe the smile from my face these days!
As an Attraction Coach, I’ve since made it my life’s work to light people up with possibilities, escorting them through made-up fields of obstacles to discover and embrace their miracle-
I’ve learned a couple of valuable lessons through it all, which I’d like to share in honor of and gratitude for my homeless hero.
1. We create our own boxes.
Whatever makes us think we’re trapped is a lie. I didn’t have to work a job I hated just to pay the mortgage. In fact, I didn’t have to have a mortgage. My inability to sing is not the reason I couldn’t run away. It was my fear of change. It was my thoughts about my job, my mortgage, and other life options that were the lies creating my trap.
My advice: throw the lid off your box, get some fresh air, take a peek at what’s possible and dream big.
2. We can have whatever we choose.
Guess what you’ll see when you throw that lid off your box to take a look around? You’ll see that anything’s possible! In fact, everything’s possible! If you can imagine it, you can have, be or do it. The evidence is all around us when you allow yourself to see it.
3. We’re the ones in charge of our lives.
Yes, my parents badly wanted me to graduate college before I got pregnant or married. Yes, my culture preferred me to join the LDS faith. Yes, my boss would have liked it if I’d stayed put.
But no one else has to walk in your shoes. Pleasing others will not lead to happiness. In fact, you’ll never know true happiness and joy if you don’t figure it out for yourself and dare to live it!
It may seem difficult to go against the grain, to do other than you’ve been taught and rewarded for. But trust me, nothing is more important than you finding and following your own heart.
4. Life’s too precious to worry what others think.
Sit on the sidewalk! Play songs for strangers! And talk to them, too. Open your heart; let others know you; and connect with your fellow earth mates.
My favorite lesson from my homeless hero is that missed buses can be the answer to unspoken prayers. I now know, every day, that the Universe always has my best interests at heart, and delivers me perfection in every single moment. Always. Perfection.
And I thank the powers that be for missed buses.
Namaste, my friend.