Today as I was sitting at the bus stop with my sleeping bag and backpack in tow, an old woman missed her bus to check and make sure I was doing all right. She had been homeless for many years, and was planning to offer a shower and meal until she saw my banjo, and saw I was a traveler. Then she giggled, teared up a little and gave me her phone number, and said I should come play music with her at the old folk’s home where she now lives. As she hugged me goodbye, she thanked me for inspiring her and told me she loved me.
So many times a day people ask me if I’m scared, tell me to be careful, or tell me that people are dangerous. But the vast majority of people are like this old woman – generous, kind, and curious. And lonely. Lot’s of people just want someone to talk to.
Last night I was walking to the library when this 10 year old girl materialized at my side. She said she’d spent most of the day at the library and that now she was walking home, alone, for the second time in her life. And you know what I asked her? I asked her if she was scared.
I hate that. I hate that those words, which imply that strangers are dangerous and being alone is a bad idea, are the standard responses to independence, especially if you’re a kid or a female. Why don’t people ever ask me if I’m scared that it hasn’t rained in California this year, or if I’m scared because a cop car just drove by, or if I’m scared of men leering at me at parties (the answer to all these questions is yes!)
Strangers are the least of my worries. There is kindness and generosity and magic all around us, and other people are our greatest supports. And if we’re going to have a revolution, we have to learn to trust each other (and to be trustworthy). That’s solidarity!
So, thank you to the old woman who refreshingly did not ask if I was scared! And a thousand apologies to the 10 year old girl: the world isn’t as scary as people make it out to be!
** It inspired a song! https://wayfairy.bandcamp.com/track/thumbs-up