What will be your extraordinary moment today?
Walking up the steep hill close to my home, I snake-ease the muscles in my neck to relieve the tension that has been building all day.
Just ahead of me, trudging up the hill, is a boy who is about nine-years-old. With his fawn-coloured curly hair, big ears and clear blue eyes he looks like an elf. He is jiggling a pencil bag full of heavy, noisy objects.
Drawing up alongside him, I recognise him as the boy whose unemployed mother stands at a traffic light asking for money so that she can take care of her son. He looks like a target for bullies – knock-kneed, freckled and wearing glasses with lenses much too thick and large for his face. Looking at the pencil bag in his right hand, I ask, ” Marbles?”
His face shines as he unzips the bag. I ask him which is his favourite. Naturally, he points to the biggest one. A “goon, ” I think it is called. It is clear glass flecked with orange and blue – a bit like the old South African flag …
” I bet you win lots of marbles with that one.”
He nods vigorously.
Out of the corner of his eye he catches sight of a dead bird on the path in front of us. A sharp intake of breath. He bends down to stroke the bird. I ask him if the body is still warm. He nods.
A new passing.
The boy stands up. ” I hate it when animals die,” he says.
” Me too, ” I reply. We stand in silence for a while, looking at the bird. Suddenly, the boy smiles, raises his hand and, with a salute, says, “Goodbye, little bird.” I echo his words and gestures. He adds, ” Little bird, now you will be in bird heaven and you will have no more worries.” We say goodbye.
As I continue on my walk, I think of the tender privilege of being able to share something as profound as this moment of death(and resurrection)with a child I hardly know.
Sometimes as an independent consultant, I feel alone in my home office. Today’s encounter with this small boy has reminded me that I need only step outside my front gate and walk a few metres up the road in order to be connected to the world around me.
Next time you go for a walk, do that mindfully, with your eyes and ears wide open to everything – the man saying, “Sawubona;” the hadedas announcing the daily news; the children on their skateboards; the red post box you have never noticed before… Everything. And notice what a difference that makes to the rest of your day.
Enjoy your walks. Perhaps we will meet along the way. I hope so.
Juliette Gyure Life, business and career coach