Common ground

February 20, 2017

 

So many thoughts to write about this week. I'm searching for civility and common ground. I am thinking about how my buttons get pushed and what that's like for you. Or you. And then...

 

The thermometer hit 65 today. It's February 19th. In Connecticut. The normal temp is 39. That's 66 percent higher than average. So, I did what everyone else did. I went to the beach. And here's what I saw.

 

So many people! One old woman in a wheelchair being pushed by a middle-aged woman. The old woman brightened up at my polite smile, as if recognizing an old friend. I saw couples: young, fit, athletic, smartly dressed; older, slower, bundled up in winter coats in spite of the warm temperature; straight, gay, happy, angry. I saw a mass of middle-schoolers, all on bicycles that they'd ridden right on to the sand, close to the water. All of them were loudly giggling, pushing, flirting and playing. Later, when most of the girls had left and I was walking back from my trek to the end of the beach, I overheard the boys all posturing and trying to outdo and outshout each other, almost everyone saying "Yo!" Yo!" "Yo, yo!" "Hey, yo!" "Yo!" I walked past people speaking Spanish, Greek, English, Polish.

 

I saw a man in swim trunks, standing with a woman near the shoreline, both of them throwing stones into the water. It looked as if they were competing. There was a guy in camo, with a large camo backpack, scanning the sand with a metal detector. Dozens and dozens of little kids swarmed over the playground, with its slides and jungle gyms, ringing bells, spinning attachments, climbing "rock" walls and were shouting back and forth to their hovering parents. A humbly dressed older man retrieved bottles from the blue recycling bin, and the pier that was rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy was the locale for the man with the drone that followed him back to the beach like a thought bubble as onlookers looked on, as onlookers are wont to do.

 

Who among these people was so very different from me? Who had cancer? Who was in a dangerous home situation? Who was a thief, or a healer, or a liar, or a visionary? Who was a Republican or a Democrat, a Jew or Christian or Muslim? A climate change denier or environmentalist? Who was an immigrant or citizen? 

 

We all were there for the same reason: to bask in the gift of this sunny, unexpectedly warm day in the middle of winter, peeking forward in time toward spring even as the sun set another few minutes later again this day, coming outdoors, together, as one to share what we have in common -- our humanity, our nature, our common ground. For a few hours, we were all the same.

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