Writers absorb the world in more detail than the average bear. We feel things more intensely and notice what is less obvious to the naked eye.
Today was a day to take in the world. My sons and I prepared 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed lunches for those less fortunate, those without homes. Since many Veterans suffer from homelessness, this was our way of giving back to those who were willing to risk the most ultimate sacrifice for our many conveniences.
My youngest needed music while “working” and so we listened to the “Purple People Eater” almost 8000 times. I had over-purchased jars of peanut butter and jelly, so on our way to deliver pre-packed lunches, which included fresh fruit and bottled water, we paused at the local food-bank and donated our excess product.
We took to the streets armed with the hope of giving. Initially, we couldn’t find anyone in need. We went to the normal corners where we notice those with a sign, “anything will help” or “family of four in need”. It took us over three hours to hand out 50 lunches, but we found them, people in need tucked away in the crannies of our city. They were lying near storefronts and in parks. One man paused, shook my hand and then saluted me, saying “G-d bless you and your family.” Another just kept saying thank you over and over.
What stood out the most were three people, separate from one another. They each were clearly hungry, yet they declined our offer for a free meal. It was heartbreaking. I knew that they didn’t trust us. Someone, somewhere had violated that trust. Someone, somewhere had pretended to offer them something good and somehow took terrible advantage of them or someone they knew. They had been hurt or deceived or worse. I didn’t want to think about it.
Great storytelling involves scene, capturing the concrete details and creating a world that the reader can enter, like a dream. But it can also involve, sometimes more than anything, the main character returning to their ordinary world changed. We, as a family, returned home altered, changed. We felt great because we helped someone else in some small capacity. But emotions are complex and we felt awful that we could not do much more and that so many people are hurting.
My youngest announced, “we alleviated some suffering today, Mom.”
Later, I met with my writing group, my tribe and I thought it funny how most of us sat there with pens that glide and journals small enough to carry everywhere. How alike we are in some connected capacity, yet how different the stories we share with one another in the hope of feedback to help shape us into better writers.
It was a good day for writing, one of heartfelt adsorption of the world around me and a connection with like-minded people I respect and admire. It was a good day for living, one of opportunity to instill in my sons the greatness of serving others and appreciating all that you have.