My husband and I were musing the other night over the many colorful landlords and apartment superintendents we had during our twelve years living in New York City. From the one who would open the door wearing only his leopard print briefs to the one who was so disgusted by the cockroach problem in the building that he covered his entire outer door with bug traps, it was quite a cast of characters indeed. It’s funny to think of them now, along with the many others who left a mark on our memories over those years… the woman who wandered onto our stoop to pee, or the one who sat across from me on the subway cracking fresh crab shells from the market and boisterously eating the juicy meat, or the man walking down the darkened street wielding what looked to be a very large sword.
Like a scene from a movie, we encounter so many “extras” in our lives—people who come and go in a flash, sometimes stopping for a bit of comedy or tragedy, sometimes just passing through. It’s easy to remember the funny or colorful ones, the quirky moments, but I think it’s hard to truly comprehend the sheer amount of lives we intersect with throughout the course of our own, and just what an impact those intersections may have.
For example, on the news last night we watched a brief interview with a young man who had saved another man’s life during one of those intersections. The scene was caught on video, and on it you can see a man fall inexplicably onto the subway tracks in Philadelphia while a handful of onlookers watch, presumably stunned and momentarily uncertain as to what to do- except for the one young man who was sitting on a nearby bench, and who took but a split second to decide what to do...jump on the tracks to help get that man safely back onto the platform before the next train arrived.
Now there is an intersection that mattered.
We never know where our impact will be felt, what a lasting impression we will make, or what our words and actions might do to somebody’s day—much less their lives. As John Muir said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
Are you paying attention to the intersections?