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What Would You Have Done?

It’s 5pm on the day before I am flying to visit my parents in Florida—and it’s freaking cold outside. Running errands, I pull up to put gas in my tank … quickly! I’m barely out of my car when a man on a bike slowly approaches, “Excuse me ma’am, my wallet was stolen …”

Cutting him off, I wave my credit card and regretfully say, “I am sorry, I don’t have any cash.” And I think about how I never carry cash and maybe I ought to.  

“No. I don’t need cash; my ID was stolen. Can you buy me a pint of Vodka, inside?”

Slightly bothered, “Hang on,” I respond.

I move about hastily in the cold to pump my tank. And, as my gas tank is filling, I turn to give him my attention.

“My name is Anthony and I live on the streets.”

I introduce myself back and get curious about this seemingly kind man who is house-less and soiled, with glassy, blood-shot eyes.

He coherently tells me he sleeps in different places around town and even though last night was snowy and cold, “they had good covering.” 

In the four-ish minutes it takes to fill my tank, we talk.

I learn he is 40, has not drank anything (yet) today, only does so (daily) after sun-down, really likes my brown-suede fringe boots, just got free chicken from the chef down the street, earns money by hand-pouring concrete—and, since his ID was recently stolen—he really wants me to go in the mart to buy him a pint of Vodka.

I enjoyed connecting with Anthony.

And, after such a real conversation with him—I agreed to buy him his pint of Vodka.

I agreed to take his $10 bill inside to fulfill his ask.

What would you have done?

Would you have fed Anthony’s alcohol addiction?

Would you have supported his spending on liquor over allocating his money towards getting off the street?

Well, after getting back in my car, I realized I wish I had not.

I wish I had not conceded to the “people pleaser” part of me.

I wish I had not betrayed my boundary for supporting alcohol addiction.

I wish I had not said yes, when inside I was really feeling a no.

Straight up truth—when Anthony asked me to do him his favor—I wish I had slowed down, taken a breath, noticed the physical sensations in my body, and clarified my truth.

There are times in life when we act habitually and wind up abandoning what is authentic to us—whether we are moving too fast, not fully present or people pleasing. It happens.

I found my interaction with Anthony to be a good reminder for myself—and one I wanted to share with you … to slow down and tune in. Because when we do, we can say and do what is really true.

And when you don’t—like I didn’t with Anthony—simply have gentle, loving, Self compassion.

Thanks for your read here.

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