I walked slowly through a bright, sunny day and found a place on a cozy bench. After a while of spacing out, a man approached me. By the look of him I knew what was coming, but having nothing better to do, I let it happen. “Do you have any spare change?” he said in a tone that told me he had done it a thousand times before. With nothing to do I decided to humor myself. “No, but I will give you five dollars if you tell me your story,” I responded. “Deal,” he said, and took a seat next to me.
He then began a story of a man lost in a world of tragedy following tragedy. He had grown up to a single mother, his dad having left him at an early age because of a drug addiction. He attended school until the age of 16 and dropped out to help support his mother and younger sister. At the age of 20 his mother contracted lung cancer from years of smoking and by the time he was 21 she was dead, making him the sole provider for his sister. By 25 he had fallen in love and married, but within 2 years she had divorced and left him, taking his only child and most of the little money he had. He fell into deep depression and tried suicide 3 times to no prevail. After extensive treatment and a short stay in HRSA he got a steady job and started to pull himself up again. At the age of 43 he was diagnosed with type-3 diabetes and after only a year of living with it had his left leg amputated. During the worst parts of the sickness he acquired crippling medical bills and eventually he was forced to quit his job. Having heard enough I stopped him and handed him a ten dollar bill and began to leave when I turned back for one last question. “Why try?” I asked and in the simple question he understood.
“Hope,” he said with a smile, and with that I was satisfied.
I believe that life is not fair, that some people are given too much and some too little, and at the end of the day most make the worst with it. I believe that sometimes you cannot win, and fate has its ways of bringing you down. But I believe that the one shining light, the miracle of it all, is that the human spirit has an ability to retain a somewhat optimistic outlook in the face of the greatest adversity.
I believe in hope.
To this day that old man’s message sticks with me and propels me through trials. Although I may have a pessimistic view of society and the humans that run it, hope is the redeeming factor that gives me faith in the future. I believe that when Pandora did the inevitable and released all the evils on the world, the only important thing was kept. I believe hope keeps us alive just as air and water do.
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