On the way home today, there was a young man walking across the square in front of me who must have had muscular dystrophy or another degenerative disability. He tripped and fell on the cobblestones, and the bags he was carrying were scattered everywhere. Most people ignored it, but a few, myself included, ran about scooping up the plastic before it could blow away. He assured us all that he was fine, and I found myself walking in the same direction that he was. He lives close by; out the gate and down the road a ways, so I introduced myself and asked if I could help him with his bags after checking again if he was alright. He had fallen pretty hard. He said No, that he just felt a bit of a dick, and that he was a little embarrassed by the children's bow-and-arrow that he was carrying - the one that had been scattered across the cobblestones. We chatted on our way down the road until we got to my building, where we said our goodbyes. He had a very firm handshake.
I had to stop and sit on the stairs on the way up to my apartment, in the dark, and stare out the window. There are moments that, by their nature, take you by surprise, and for some reason I was left feeling as if I'd been punched in the gut. So I sat there, staring at nothing, trying to feel something, anything, for the young man who fell on the cobblestones, for the man who sleeps by the train station at night, and all I could manage was the same numb hollowness that has settled resolutely in the pit of my stomach for the last few years.
When he hit the ground, he was still for a moment or two. Then, very slowly, he pushed himself off the stones.
It is never easy to pick yourself up.
This has no relation to fashion, to denim, or even to consumption, but I felt I had to share the story, and it couldn't really fall under any other aegis in our little streetwear microverse. There are some moments that are so inescapably human, so shocking in the forcefulness with which they remind you of your own mortality, that you either let them run away from you and you try your best to never remember them, or you force yourself to set aside some time for contemplation. I have a wardrobe - a wardrobe I have posted about in this thread, even - worth thousands of dollars; the grand sum of a hobby I enjoy and the product of a good deal of hard work and not a little bit of money. I would have given all of it away if I could only have spared that boy what must have been a moment of absolutely excruciating pain. Without a second thought.
Since arriving in the UK, I've almost been hit by two buses, read about several murders, and seen someone get run over by a bicyclist. Today, not only did he pick himself up of the cobblestones with an entire square of people staring at him, but he laughed at himself afterwards. I have never been so proud to be human.
That is worth remembering. That is worth living for. I will never forget that pause - that instant of utter stillness, when I saw someone lying on the ground who might have been moments away from giving up. We have to remember what we're fighting for. We have to remember how fortunate we are. We have to remember how easy it is to change a person's life, whether you're the toothless old lady handing a boy back his children's archery set, or whether you're just the jerk-off American who thinks that sometimes, with a kind word or two, you can save an entire day. Because maybe you can. It's always worth a shot.