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Worthless

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simplybill

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I woke up this morning feeling worthless. That's the price you pay at times when you're a recluse such as I am and there's no one around to offer encouragement. One becomes acclimated to loneliness in the same way one becomes acclimated to the cold of winter or the heat of summer, but today was different. I felt as though my foundation had disappeared from under my feet and I was looking up from inside a deep pit. As I lay there in bed, I contemplated quitting. I searched my soul, and I couldn't think of anything in my life that was worthwhile to other people, I felt like nothing I did was making me a better person.  

I counted the cost of what my life would be like if I simply gave up and let hopelessness devour me. First off, of course, I'd start drinking again; then I'd neglect my home and my yard and my health, and soon I'd be just another old drunk with empty eyes. I almost said the words: "God, I can't do it anymore. I give up."  

And even as I prepared myself to say those words, a thought came to me: "Why are you giving up on yourself, when God hasn't given up on you?"  Hmm.... 

I went downstairs and made coffee, checked out things on the Internet, and slowly got ready to make the 50-mile drive to the 'big city' to run errands and go to Sunday night church. I tried to encourage myself by thinking I'd hear a really good sermon at church that would:  Set  My  Feet  On  A  Mountaintop!!   But those chains of worthlessness weighed me down all the way into town.

After a haircut, and a visit to Sears to buy a couple of pairs of blue jeans, I went to the Walmart near my church. I picked up some cucumbers and bell peppers and balsamic vinegar, and stood in line at the Express Checkout. The cashier was a young black woman, maybe 25 years old, with tightly braided hair, a smooth complexion, and a strong build. But her eyes were sad. The family she was checking out was having a hard time getting their credit card to work, and the line was at a standstill. The cashier waited patiently, without even a hint of annoyance, maintaining her stoic look with those sad eyes. The next people in line also had credit card trouble and the cashier quietly smiled at them.

When my turn came, I tried to guess her accent. South Africa? Eritrea? Her nametag said, 'Kang', a name I'd never seen before. As she began scanning my groceries, she picked up the cucumbers and asked "Cucumbers?". I said yes, then she picked up the bell peppers, and started to look at the picture chart. I said, "Bell Peppers". By now I was overwhelmed with curiosity. I asked quietly, "So, where are you from?" She looked at me with just a little bit of apprehension, and said "South Sudan".  

The Sudanese have endured centuries of civil wars and military coups, starvation, and slavery. In recent years, three million people have been displaced, six million people are at risk of starvation, barrels of gasoline with detonators attached are dropped from helicopters into villages of grass huts, and slave-trading is rampant. It's a terrible place to live, and the outside world has done little to intervene.

Kang has won the lottery: she has come from a living hell to beautiful, peaceful Iowa and has a real job, nice clothes, and the glorious freedom of America. With all the weight of those thoughts racing through my mind, I looked at her and said, "Congratulations!!"  

I'm not exaggerating when I say that Kang was transformed before my very eyes. She appeared to be a little girl, her eyes brightened as though they were lit from within, she looked at me and said, "Thank you!!"  As she handed me my grocery bags, she looked directly in my eyes, smiling with joy, and said "Thank you!!" a second time.

Needless to say, I drove home with tears in my eyes. This mountaintop feels pretty good.   


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sees

Posted (edited)

Thanks for sharing this.  Your humanity reached out to her - by way of curiosity - and you were rewarded. 

I am also a semi recluse (i.e. I get to leave my flat fairly briefly about 3 times a week); it's by choice and suits me well.  I seem to need more 'space'/solitude than most people.  I have good social skills but, being an empath, can get quickly drained so need to recharge my batteries - I wonder if it the same with you?  

I was struck by what you said about not feeling worthwhile to other people.  Being of service to others, e.g. doing some voluntary work, is an excellent solution for this!  Have you thought about it?  I dare say there are opportunities related to your faith.  I just suggest it as a possibility.  I have found that it nurtures the soul - has a real 'feel good' factor to it.  color.gif

Just curious - have you done anything with your writing talent since I last complimented you on it?

Edited by sees
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simplybill

Posted

Hi sees! No, I haven't really done much with my writing lately. I usually get my best ideas when I'm working outdoors or going on long walks. Springtime is just around the corner now, so I hope to get back to walking and writing soon.

As far as voluntary work: My sister and her family go to Ghana at least once a year to help out at the orphanage that their church sponsors, and a friend travels to Kenya every two months to help oversee a couple of farms that supply food to orphanages all around the country. They've asked me to go along with them, but I guess my reclusiveness keeps me from going. I haven't always been so reclusive, but an illness I had a few years ago kept me at home so much that I sort of lost touch with the rest of the world. 

Thank you for your encouragement. I will take it to heart. I'm still adjusting to my "after-illness" life, and I haven't quite found my stride yet.

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sees

Posted

Ah, sorry....I didn't realise you were recovering.  You seem a bit down on yourself (maybe the illness is influencing this?) but you come across as a good, talented man.  Perhaps reminding yourself of your virtues and acknowledging them....hey, even celebrating them would help restore some balance/perspective.  Take care.

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DebDandelion

Posted

I agree with sees. Celebrate that you got up (even though u didn't want to) and for what it's worth I am actually proud of u for not giving up!

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DebDandelion

Posted

Oh wanted to add ur not worthless!

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Eldorado

Posted

I've been there with the "worthless" and diving into a bottle, Bill and have the liver cirrhosis and heart disease to show for it.  Keep your chin up and keep doing what you did... make someone smile by being normal and chatty.  Just as the girl helped you, you will have helped her.  She will have gone home smiling about meeting a nice gentleman.  :)

Wishing you well!  x

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simplybill

Posted (edited)

Thank you all for the encouraging words. And yes, that encounter with Kang was really amazing. One of the reasons I wrote this is so I'd never forget that look on her face. I don't want to sound over-dramatic, but I'd say it was a life-changing moment. (Definitely for me, and hopefully for her too.)

 

 

 

Edited by simplybill
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tcgram

Posted

Wonderful story.  Thank you for sharing.   :)  

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