A lesson I learned last night
A lesson I learned last night
A couple of hours ago I was at a 24 hour diner cramming for a philosophy
exam. I was trying to remember all these 'practical' ethics down to a science. Then
an elderly man walked in and sat two stools over from where I was sitting.
He asked the waitress if he could sit there because that's where his father
used to sit. In a carefree manner she asked, "Where's your father now?" The
man hesitated and replied, "Rose Hills." It took a while for it to sink in,
and she finally replied, "Oh, I'm sorry." She then seemed uncomfortable and
As I overheard all of this I contemplated whether to get involved and say
something or pretend I didn't hear anything and continue studying for my final
exam. I weighed my options and justified my conclusion by telling myself that
I didn't even know the man and my final was in the morning. Well, time passed,
and my conscience kept tugging at me. Finally, as I was returning from the
bathroom he said, "It seems like you've got a lot on your plate." (And we both
knew he wasn't referring to the food.) I smiled, and said that I had a final
exam in the morning. He replied that I should work really hard and that my
studies were very important. I felt torn.
He began to tell me that he was a man who knew very little. Circumstances
found him caring for his grandchildren and they seemed to not appreciate him
very much. He shared with me that he had come to this diner to sit where his
father used to sit. "I came to visit my 'pa. He's been gone for a year and I
just wanted to come and visit him."
While our conversation was well underway the manager came by and asked him if
everything was O.K. The elderly man misinterpreted the question and thought
that he was asking him to somehow pay his check and leave. "If you want me to
move, it's going to take me a little while, I don't move too quickly, or care
to jump much anymore." He turned to me and said, "Son, don't be like me, don't
rush your whole life away."
I began thinking about the time I could be spending with my little brother,
my sister, my mother, and thinking about my grandmother who feels so
neglected. My heart began to cry. He sensed my pain and said, "Before I go,
I'll leave you with this (he searched into his wallet and pulled out and old
beaten card that was ripped at three of its corners), I don't know who wrote
it or where it came from, but it's part of why I'm here tonight." He let me
read the card and it went something like this:
After I read it he shook my hand, introduced himself and walked away. Somehow
after that moment my 'philosophy' exam had already come to pass. I saw in him,
'practical' ethics. And I knew what had to be done.
- On this day mend a quarrel.
- On this day search out a forgotten friend.
- On this day dismiss a suspicion, and replace it with trust.
- Write a letter to someone who misses you, or to someone you miss.
- Encourage a youth who has lost faith.
- Keep a promise, and forget an old grudge.
- Examine your demands on others, and vow to reduce them.
- Fight for a principle.
- Express your gratitude.
- Overcome an old fear.
- Take a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of nature.
- Tell someone you love them.
- Tell them again, and again.
- Live your life to the fullest.
So I'm sitting here, at 1:22 in the morning writing you this letter to tell
you that I'm thankful for everything the Great Spirit has done in my life.
And most of all, I'm grateful for the hope that's been planted in my heart.
If I should die tonight, I just wanted you to know that you are a special
person in my life. Just remember that when life seems like a roller-coaster,
filled with its ups and its downs, it takes the balance of both to achieve
For in order to have a rainbow you need both the sun and the rain. So if it
seems to be 'raining' on your parade, remember that the sun will indeed come
up tomorrow, and the balance of the two, the yin(g) and the yan(g), will
create a rainbow in your life. Here's to seeing you on the other side.
Cesar A. Cruz- Teolol- zero
Written by: Cesar A. Cruz