What is the first thing that comes to your mind here?
Well I stopped and stared and thought a while and this being Seattle, I allowed the possibility that this tree was rescued from demise and a neighbor was thanking an unknown… but then, no. This felt like a human rescue, a heroic passerby that knew to administer CPR, a stranger that then stepped back onto the sidewalk when 911 arrived. So the rescued painted this sign and hung it at the roundabout — which made me think bicycle wreck– and perhaps the stranger kept walking when she or he saw all was stable.
No name, no license plate, no record of this angel. Just a momentous moment of taking action.
I have a friend here in the city that was hit by a car a few months ago, a mess of braking and slamming and somersaulting and then — blacking out — an inability to recall details. Rattled passerby gave conflicting accounts, uninterested policeman wrote a one-line report, the ensuing hours in Group Health made this a lingering PTSD-like experience that has made him reluctant to take his bike out of the shed, unable to piece together what has scarred him.
What makes us good passerby, rescuers, observers and in the greater picture, responsible for others? Recently I have been unable to articulate how to take care of others in the wake of So. Much. Carnage. Since Orlando. And Medina. And Baghdad. And now, Baton Rouge. I know, with horror, I am not listing all the blood shed since June. Guns and more guns and more fire and more violence.
What do I do, some fifty-something gal working on her writing sitting in her nest so far from so much?
I start by looking closely — at myself, at the people around me, at the moss on the north side of the great tree that shades me as I type. How to take action, starting with myself?
At the coffee shop a few days ago I saw a man hunched over on the bench outside, weeping into his cell phone. Without a second thought I lay my hands on his shoulders, held him and pressed a little love into him for a few seconds. Then I kept walking.
It was my turn to make sure he knew he was not alone. It wasn’t CPR but it was action. Take some.