Be Brave Friday-Being Knocked off the Sidewalk and Working on My Assumptions

best creative nonfiction blog Carrie Jones

The two women were walking down the sidewalk toward the library, heading toward me. I knew one of them. Everyone in town knows her. I’d met with her a few months ago, confused about why she’d wanted to meet me. Whatever the reason, it was obvious that I’d failed the test the way I do sometimes.

I’d reached out to her again. She never responded. I tried one more time. Nothing.

Maybe her email was chaos. I know mine is. I didn’t worry about it. I tend not to stress about that sort of thing.

And now as she and this other woman walked by, she kept her head down, talking.

Now, maybe she really didn’t see me, but she’s not a woman who misses much. And I saw them and I’m blind in one eye. 🙂

However, invisibility was a possibility because on our sidewalk, her friend didn’t move over so that we could go by single file. She bumped into me the way you bump into people in a high school hallway when you don’t like them too much.

Right then: I made an assumption. I assumed that the ignoring, the bump, they were on purpose.

Then I put my foot back on the sidewalk, kept striding like Beyoncé was playing in the background, and shook it off like Taylor Swift, swallowing something unspeakable, a tiny bit of pain that comes from not being ignored, but also disrespected, that feeling that some people give you when you realize that they wanted something from you and you didn’t provide it and now you aren’t worth sharing the sidewalk with.

But that’s an assumption—a horrible assumption. I have no idea about their intents.

It could have been something totally different, something that had nothing to do with me but with whatever they were talking about, engrossed in. They could be suffering in ways I can’t even imagine. So, they can have the sidewalk if they need it. It’s okay.

Here’s the thing that’s bigger than those two women and me. It’s hard sometimes to only be seen when someone wants something from you. It’s hard sometimes to be ignored. And that may not be what happened with me and that woman, but it happens all the time to people.

That breaks my heart. We’re all better than that. We all can be.

Real connections are important, those kinds of connections that stay hard and fast and true, the kind that don’t create unspeakable feelings that you have to gulp down, but the kind that you get to sing out, strong and true. You can’t get those if you choose not to see other people.

In this world, we have so many choices to see, to really see, other people beyond labels, beyond the bubbles of our own experience and our wants. We can choose to be cheerleaders, leaders, friends, bailsmen, helpers, students, teachers, people who give others a second chance or even a third one. And we can choose not to.

So, the next time I see that lady, I’m going to loudly say hello. That’s what being brave can be about, right? Being seen. And seeing others, too, even when they don’t see you any longer.

Here is my chaotic painting. Color is mixed. Technique is mixed. There are no angels in it yet. But there will be, somewhere, seeing.

Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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