A Pair of Gloves
“I am intrigued by paradoxes. If something seems to be a paradox, it holds something deeper, something worth exploring.” ~Roger Penrose
Mother Nature threw a tantrum last week leaving millions of people without heat, water or access to food across a wide swath of Texas.
They do hot down there, not cold, and certainly not the kind of artic cold that accompanied this particular storm. Buildings aren’t insulated for it and many people don’t even own winter coats or a pair of warm gloves.
On top of Covid, on top of the economy, and schools and uncertainty—more misery for more people.
And I sit here, in my cozy Covid-containment-cave, in a safe city in a country built to withstand artic air, with a well-stocked pantry and running water… and I feel deeply blessed.
And deeply sorrowful. At the same time. The ends of the spectrum… a paradox.
* * * * *
Sunday was a sunny day in Toronto. After days of snow and frigid temperatures, my body wanted to move so I went for a walk, a rare occurrence for this cave dweller unless I’ve run out of milk.
I bundled up—with warm gloves, coat, hat and boots—and started to leave, grabbing a five-dollar bill off the hall table as I opened the door, because… well, I wasn’t sure. I was going nowhere, buying nothing.
Habit: Don’t leave home without cash in my pocket.
The sun shone. The air was clear. My legs moved briskly, and my arms swung at my side.
I noticed that as I walked—with no phone, no ID, and just five bucks in my pocket—I felt fully free and quite rich.
* * * * *
I knew as soon as I turned down that street why I had grabbed that five dollars.
She sat wrapped in a sleeping bag, huddled over a grate.
She was younger than I expected once I got closer. She clutched a threadbare blanket around her shoulders. Her hair was brown. So were her eyes.
She wore no gloves.
I knelt down and asked how she was doing. We spoke a minute or two. And then I walked on.
Back to my comfortable, warm cave.
Grateful and sad.
* * * * *
Perhaps it’s my age, or maybe it’s this extended time of isolated cave-dwelling, but I seem to notice the paradoxes of life—and mine in particular—more than I once did.
Or maybe I just have more time on my hands to think idle thoughts.
Or maybe that it’s the fact that I have a cave to return to.
And own a warm coat and a pair of gloves.
A left and a right.
You need both to keep warm in the midst of cold.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~Mahatma Gandhi