I left the swimming pool in a bad mood. I failed to complete the prescribed intervals. I cut the workout 1 km short. I felt bad about it. I felt bad about myself.
As I was approaching the metro entrance, I saw a man. He was walking slowly towards the same entrance as me while dragging a wooden stick on the ground in front of him. He then stopped and raised his hand in the air as if he was waving at someone. There was no one around and he was waving at the wall. I realized that he was blind. A few seconds later, as I was getting closer, I said: “Coming!” – to let him know of my presence. I came closer and asked what was going on and if he needed some help. Sure he did. The man needed money to get home. He was also disoriented and thirsty. I saw it on his lips.
I brought him inside the building and looked around for an ATM. I told him to wait where he was and went to find one. After I withdrew the cash, I stopped by the coffee place and got him a bottle of water and snacks. I gave him two bills and he showed me how to distinguish twenty-dollar bills with my eyes closed. He then held me by my hand and we walked down to the metro. We were going in the same direction, so we went onto the train and sat by each other. He told me that he wasn’t always blind. He lost his vision at the age of 19th due to glaucoma. He missed seeing women and movies. I attempted to joke saying that now he might’ve developed a great imagination. We attracted a lot of attention in the metro. I was on my way to the Symphony performance, wearing a fancy black jacket, black pants and pink tight t-shirt underneath. He was a black man, with a wooden stick, a long simple autumn coat and a beard. He held me by the hand as we marched through the crowd like a couple. I didn’t care at all. I just noticed. A couple of minutes later, at his station, he stepped outside the train, stood on the station’s platform and yelled: “Alex, which way is the exit!?”. Everybody on the train looked at me. I smiled. “Go right! Right, Amigo! Take care.”
… five minutes late. I run into the Orchestre Métropolitain, scan my ticket and go upstairs. The performance had started and the lights were down. An employee at the door told me that I can sit anywhere. I went inside and scanned the auditorium. There were not too many empty seats, so I went to the back of the room. Found a place in the middle and to get there, I had to pass three men. I walked up to the row, apologized and squeezed through them. The empty seat was next to an older man. I asked if it was taken and if I can sit there. He was very awkward, until another man, whom I passed a few seconds ago, waved at me showing to sit down. I thought maybe I was too loud and disturbing my neighbours. It wasn’t the reason.
A couple of minutes went by and the orchestra went hammering. The man next to me started giggling and doing weird hand movements. I then heard some animal-like noises coming from the rows behind. I realized that the guy who waved at me earlier was a nurse or some sort of supervisor. And the people in those couple of seats were mentally challenged, bought from an establishment by their caretakers. I immediately remembered the blind man, whom I helped not too long ago.
People around me were disturbing, and I didn’t get to fully enjoy the performance. But it’s ok. I was at the right place, at the right time. That day’s experience had something to teach me. The lesson revealed itself when I got back home. I felt a lot of pressure inside. A heaviness. A weight on my chest. I went to connect with it in my meditation.
I realized that I am so lucky! The man is blind. Completely blind. Can’t see anything. But I can. I was blaming myself for swimming 3 kilometres at the race pace instead of 4. Those people at the performance will never get to know what it feels like to swim even 100 meters without stopping. I don’t appreciate what I have. Not at all. I don’t appreciate that I am completely healthy and fit as f*ck. I realized how rich I was. How blessed I was! God gave me everything I have. I exist only because of him. I was given the opportunity to leave Ukraine and see many places in the World. I live in a country without war. I am in a country of opportunities. How many people were sent to help me? How blessed I am! Complete strangers helped me out many times. All the women who loved me, and whom I loved. They were my blessings, my angels, and without them, I would’ve been someone different. I am truly grateful for all of them, their love and their support. My friends… All the times we had together. All the laughs. I am such a lucky man. My parents. My brother. My dog. OMG, Mr. Blake on his own is a dog worth living for. He is such a gift! The education I was given. The work I am doing now. Every time, when I thought that it was a bottom, God pulled me out. All the truths about myself that were revealed to me. All the knowledge that was shared with me. My life is so much deeper and more fulfilling now. I experienced such an intense feeling of gratitude. Everything that happened in my life, happened FOR me. I was always looked after. I was helped so many times. I was given so many opportunities. My heart was overfilled with gratitude from realizing all the blessings I was given. I am a very, very lucky man. Truly. I never won a lottery, but, perhaps, I just had an experience of it.
I feel bad for the men that I met today. My blind brother would’ve really liked to hear the orchestra play. It is a tragedy to lose a vision. It is even worse to know that his eyes could’ve been saved, having the right amount of money for the surgery. Mentally challenged people. On the outside, it seemed like they were struggling. I have no idea what they are going through, on the inside.