Sunday, June 14, 2015

Detail Wags the Dog

I saw the sign one Friday morning as I crossed Broadway on my way to work.

It was on the back of Pepperidge Farm delivery truck parked on Fulton Street and I saw the words written especially for me: “God is in the Details.”

He is? Hell, I thought the Devil was the in details. Had these guys switch duties without telling me? And why is Pepperidge Farm suddenly preaching the good word?

I remember their commercials from the Sixties, which ended with some geezer with a straw hat, glasses and loose dentures telling us “Pepperidge Farm remembers…”

The ads were an attempt to hark back to a simpler time when food was pure and healthy and not mass-produced in factories with ingredients that seemed more appropriate for rocket fuel than anything you’d want to eat.

Then I looked closer at the sign and saw God wasn’t in the details. The slogan is “Good is in the Details.” Good God, I’m hallucinating again.

No matter. God knows I needed some good news and I decided to accept this nonexistent message. Reality is such a bore.

When my back went out not so long ago and I was barely able to walk, I suddenly noticed people with walkers and canes and crutches, all laboring to get from Point A to Point B. Where had all these poor souls come from, I wondered.

Well, of course, they hadn’t magically dropped from the sky. They were there all along, painfully walking right in front of me, but since I wasn’t sharing their agony, I barely noticed their existence. Once we were all on the same excruciating page, I became enlightened.

We’re Down Here

As I continue to ponder my future, I’m seeing more and homeless people. I do think there are more of them in this city, but I also think my own fears and doubts are causing me to spot them much more quickly.

Like the young woman who sits on Church Street near Century 21 with her dog, to whom I’ve been giving change for the last few mornings.

And there was a man outside my old building on Broadway who carried a sign reading “Every time you give change to a homeless person an angel gets his wings.”

I guess it’s good to have a sense of humor when you’ve got no roof over your head. And the sign actually had some fine print that cut through the funny business with a simple two-word question “Got karma?”

That little detail got my attention. Some people get through the day by pretending the homeless don’t exist, or that they’re some other life form that has no relation to the rest of humanity.

Of course that’s completely false. All it takes is a few changes in your circumstances and you could wind up in the same situation.

The people at my gym allow a local homeless man to use the showers each morning. It’s a very kind gesture and I give these folks a lot of credit.

But the first time I ran into this man I actually heard myself complaining about this…person in my gym.

I had to remind myself that I’m lucky to have a home of my own, that I can afford to go to the gym in a world where so many people struggle for food and shelter.

God is in the details but you must have goodness in your heart to find Him or you’ll never get your wings.


Ron said...

Beautifully expressed post, Rob! And I so love and respect that you willing to look at something from a much deeper level and perspective, and see it as almost sign of something for you to learn. And I don't think you were hallucinating when you read "God is in the Details" because I think you were meant to see that as a perhaps a message "from" God that he is tending to all the details in your life right now. Like to let you know that all is being taken care of in time.

"As I continue to ponder my future, I’m seeing more and homeless people."

I think it's so ironic you mentioned that because the exact same thing happened to me last year when I was going through some financial struggles and changes with my work. I noticed more homeless people. And not only that, but they were actually coming up to me and asking for money. And it scared me a little because like you, I knew it was reflecting my own fears and doubts about what was going on in my own life. But it also made me realize that being homeless could happen to anyone, so it caused me to be more compassionate. It also made me appreciate more of what I already had.

GREAT post, buddy! And have a fantastic week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron! That's amazing that we had similar experiences. There's nothing like going through scary times to change your outlook and--hopefully--make your more compassionate.

We live in a very heartless era and there's this lingering fear that if you don't keep up you'll be ground up. So I guess the best we can do is work hard, have faith and keep on moving.

Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy! Have a fantastic week!

Bijoux said...

'Good is in the details'? I think your version makes more sense!

It is interesting how we really do notice people and things around us when we've experienced similar circumstances.

Rob K said...

Hey, Bijoux! There's nothing like adversity to help refine your vision!

Stephanie Faris said...

Have you ever seen the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?" I think you'd like it! It covers how our thinking controls our reality (similar to The Secret, but much more scientific). They have some of the best minds of our time in the movie, talking about how we control how we feel and what we see around us. Anyway, a small part of that movie and The Secret is that your brain picks out what you see each day. We're surrounded by sights and sounds every day and we can't focus on each one of them, so we pull out what's interesting to us. That's why if you buy a new car, you suddenly start seeing that same car everywhere. You would have ordinarily picked something else in your field of vision to focus on. It's all very interesting...and explains why you suddenly noticed people who were disabled around you when you were going through it yourself.

Rob K said...

Wow, Stephanie, I haven't seen this film, but I will certainly give it a look as soon as I can. It sounds like it's something I need. Thanks so much!

A Cuban In London said...

What a beautiful and articulate post. I loved the humour in it, too. I have occasionally written e-mails to my colleagues in which I have accidentally replaced the word "good" for "god" (easy mistake to make). I usually get the same reply from colleagues: I thought you were atheist! :-)

Greetings from London.

Rob K said...

Thank you so much! Yes, the "good" and "god" mistake is an internet classic. Take care!

CrystalChick said...

A quote comes to mind… 'We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.' I think it's attributed to Anais Nin, but I'm sure it's much older… a Talmudic statement maybe? It seems to fit though, right?

Just this past weekend I saw a man asking for money for food… sadly, I waited until he wandered down the street before getting out of my car. I'm never sure how to handle situations like that. We certainly have given both a little money and food to people, and donate to assorted causes, but there have been times when my husband has offered to buy a person something to eat and they've declined. It's drug/alcohol money some of them want. The guy I saw was coming from a motel, next to a liquor store. But, that still might just be a judgment on my part, he might have just wanted food. I must need to think about a few things too, huh?

Rob K said...

Hey, Mary, I like that quote--a lot.

Tough call on when to give and when not to. You don't want to feed addictions or destructive habits, but you also want to help people out if you can. I just take them one at a time.

Take care!