I recently watched a YouTube (not sure how it came to my attention) of a fellow who tried to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was a sad story of a fellow who was struggling with a deep depression and he describes how all he wanted was for the pain to end.
He took a bus to the bridge, and described how no one, not even the driver or fellow passengers cared how miserable he was, no one even asked him if he was ok. He was hoping someone would just acknowledge him, or ask him how he was doing, but alas, everyone was busy with their own lives.
The moment he leaped off the bridge, he continued, “all I wanted to do was live.” Well he did live. When he was fished out of the water by the Coast Guard, they told him how lucky he was, despite his completely broken body. “We fish out some 60-70 bodies a year, and they are all dead. You are the first one I’ve ever pulled out who was alive. GO LIVE! You have a lot to live for.
This fellow turned his life around and is now a motivational speaker and encourages people to find what they DO have to live for. He also encourages people look around them, and see the people next to them. If they seem agitated, ask them how they are doing.
Last night, I was in BIG Y picking up drinks and other supplies for this weeks Shabbat Dinner. There was a fellow behind me on the line hopping from foot to foot, looking agitated and sad. Red and tearing eyes, and seemed out of sorts.
I saw that he had one item and I had a whole conveyor belt of stuff and offered him to cut the line ahead of me. After refusing a few times he thanked me and did so.
As he was fumbling for his payment, he still seemed so sad, so I asked him if everything was OK. He kind of half nodded and cried a bit harder.
I said, “hey, can I help? I am a rabbi, I don’t know if you are even Jewish, but I do help people, perhaps I can help?”
He walked over to me, shook my hand, and said, “pray for me rabbi, just pray for me”
He left the store, and I wondered what the end of the story was.
Was he so down on his luck that perhaps, like in the YouTube, I may have saved his life?
Was just in the midst of a bad break-up and this was a non-event? Who knows? I certainly would never know the end of the story? I thought that was end of it, and hurried to our Chabad House to give my Torah class before I was late.
Well, I got home from class later last night and the following email was waiting for me.
Hello Rabbi Nechemia, My name is xxxx, and I was the guy purchasing flowers at Big Y tonight. I found this email on google and wanted to reach out and thank you again. There is no doubt I had a hard day.I spent most of the day with my mother at the hospital. She is currently battling cancer and has been going through chemo treatments since October.Today was hard for her and she was sad and crying for a lot of the visit. Most of my energy was spent trying to keep her positive and happy.After I left the hospital my first stop was Big Y to buy flowers. The flowers I purchased were for my girlfriend and her mother. 9 years ago today my girlfriend lost her father to cancer. From what she’s told me about him, and stories I’ve heard from family and friends, he was a kind man who went out of his way to do nice things for people, even if he didn’t know them. When you offered to let me go in front of you, as well as offered to help I could tell you truly meant it. It was a pretty special moment. So that you know I’m not in need of help, but your offer and kind deed to a stranger was much appreciated and made my day a lot better.
P.s I think I have the right Rabbi.
So, you never know. Just ask… Sometimes, you will save a physical life, another time you may just help a struggling fellow human being having a difficult day, and sometimes you may be asked to mind your own business.
The reality is we are (self) absorbed with our own lives, our own problems, and our own to-do lists. Life is busier than ever before and there just isn’t space for extra things on our plate.
The fact of the matter is, despite apps like InBoxZero and other things meant to give us more time, there never is enough time. So the endless to do list will remain without a few check marks.
However, if we are so stuck in ourselves that we cannot see another, and try to help, we will miss out on those once in a lifetime opportunities to make a difference forever.
Blog post 22/52 Photo Credits – Huffington Post