BY MICHAEL ARMIJO
While driving one day, I noticed a young man sitting on a park bench. You could tell he was in despair, the way he was just sitting there, staring at the ground. He looked like he had given up.
The man was wearing a muddy shirt, dirty tan pants, a large trash bag that he used as a backpack, and a pair of almost unrecognizable tennis shoes. His hair was filthy and matted, and he sported an untrimmed beard that looked as though it had been chopped in sections with a dull pair of scissors.
He sat there as though he had no place to go. His head hung down; his eyes seemingly entranced on the ground. The scene reminded me of a small child, bored, thinking he didn’t have a friend in the world. I could see hopelessness and sadness in this man’s demeanor.
As the cars sped by on the street, the man got up and walked in a slow-paced journey to nowhere. Had he stepped into oncoming traffic, I would have been horror-struck, but not surprised. It would have appeared as though another tragic life had ended without a cause, without a clue, and without a care.
He didn’t look angry, but had he been I could have imagined him attacking. Why not lash out at society if you don’t care what happens to you? Why not “get even?” This is a sad logic, but as one who watches the news, its today’s reality.
As I looked at the man, I wondered if society had failed him; but how much truth does that hold? How responsible is society for the ones that are lost? I believe we have to ask ourselves, who determines our path? Who maps out our life? We’ve heard so many excuses about responsibility through blame and denial that we allow ourselves to label our lives as dysfunctional. And then we wonder why we turn out differently than others.
After the experiences I’ve had in life, I now believe we are the creators of our own destiny. We determine where we go, who we are, and who we become. After pointing the finger at society for too long, we need to take responsibility for ourselves. HOWEVER, I will add that as parents, we ARE responsible for providing an honest and fair life, a loving and caring environment, a responsible and healthy example, and a thorough and extensive education for our children. Of course, we shouldn’t condemn ourselves if our children do not turn out the way we had hoped. As human beings, there comes a point in time where we need to look ourselves in our own eyes and say; “I honestly did the best I could, with no regrets.” Why wish for the chance to do things over, when that is not a possibility? You can only change who you are right now, and move forward doing your best.
I believe that there will be a day of judgment. And on that day we will be forced to look into our own souls and really see who determined our path. So to that young man on the park bench, I hope you are happy with your path.