Tuesday, October 16, 2012
do unto others
That man in the middle there, that is my dear Melvin. He has been perhaps the greatest teacher in my life the past year and a half. And the top five of my lifetime, without a doubt. I think we met on the street, though it could have been the shelter - I am racking my brain trying to think of our first meeting, I'm sure it was a strange one. Memories with Melvin are many, words and walks and stories. Endless, endless stories. Melvin and I are alike in that when asked a question, we don't give a yes or no answer, rather, we tell a story. (An annoying quality to many, to be sure). Melvin's stories are longer, much, much longer than the average story, I must admit. And the story that is told seems to have literally nothing to do with the question you asked. Somehow, if you do make it through the entire story, it will come back around to actually answering your question. Then you're a little blown away that the man was able to remember what the question was, and at least half the time has left you with something more profound. The other half you're confused, or dozing off. He loves to make people laugh - often at their own expense - or just an old fashioned knock knock joke. Whatever it takes. I like to laugh, so he suits me just fine, even when I'm the butt of the joke. I should be the butt, Melvin must see me as a foolish little imp, a girl that doesn't know much about anything - proven by the thousands of questions he has asked me about history, math and science that I have no answer for. The man makes me think I should go back to the third grade rather than trying to get a Master's. Maybe I should.
He had me crying at the dinner table on Sunday night. Not the first time, and not the last, tears welled up in my eyes at Melvin's words. We were sitting around the table chatting about why JUSTembrace throws parties for the people that they do, and how having people that make us feel uncomfortable around might actually be a good thing. After having dinner with many people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addictions, paranoia and more, I couldn't agree more with the truth that Melvin spoke, "Do unto other's what we would have done to us. You never know the profound impact you might be having on a person." He told a story about a depressed friend of his who was standing around at the park, staring at a flower. Staring. Standing. Melvin took notice, and stood and stared at the flower, too. Just stood, and stared. Together, they looked at the flower. "Some people just need someone next to them."
Melvin is right. It was maybe the first time "Do unto others" actually meant something to me. Though I get the concept, those words have never resonated like they did on Sunday. Shivers went up my spine as I realized the weight of Jesus saying those words. Do unto others... it's simple. How do you want to be? How do you feel loved? Give it away. Give it away without expecting or wanting anything in return.
When we used to have small group in the living room, there was a loveseat Melvin and I often shared. Because of his bulk and my smallness, we fit snugly. My shoulder would rub up against his big arm covered in layers protecting him from the cold. Sometimes I would watch bed bugs jump from his jacket, onto the couch, the floor. I wouldn't sit on the couch alone for a week after that, but when we were sitting there together, it just didn't matter. You know why? I love feeling the closeness of a friend. Selfishly I'd grab that seat next to Melvin because I'd be near him.
One of my favorite things to do in the city is when I happen upon a bus that has someone sitting alone - because they are either smelly, or talking to themselves, or drunk - I plop myself down next to them. Sometimes the whole bus will be full, people standing. But no one will sit by that person. Our shoulders might touch, and that's just fine. Maybe they haven't been touched or just sat next to in a long time. Not by choice, anyway.
All I know is that if I hadn't been sat next to because someone just wanted to sit next to me in a long, long time, I'd get pretty sad. I might even start feeling like I wasn't human anymore, or that I wasn't worth being treated like one.
Melvin stood with his friend and looked at a flower, because he knows that sometimes we just need someone next to us, to know we're not alone.
Posted by Emma Boucher at 11:22 AM