Sitting in the barber’s chair getting a haircut, I closed my eyes. It’s been a hectic week, so I was trying to quiet my mind and pray. I’m not very good with understanding and sorting through my emotions, so I have to focus harder than most to get in touch with them.
I began to think of the things that I should be grateful for like my God, faith, and family. I opened my eyes for a moment and I saw him. He was a mentally retarded kid. I’m going to call him John.
John sat down next to his mom with his Super Mario lunch pail. He seemed to be in his teens and a little overweight. He pushed the glasses higher up on his nose as he looked around aimlessly.
For the remaining 10 minutes I was getting my hair trimmed, he never stopped smiling.
He chuckled occasionally as he looked around. It was like he had an invisible friend constantly telling him jokes. I began to think about his retarded ignorant existence.
By retarded ignorance, I literally mean John had a mental retardation and was unaware of the many things that we worry about. He didn’t understand war or murder. He had no need for status and power. He wasn’t worried about his future and what he was doing with his life, at least not in the way that you or I do.
In many ways, I was reminded of my children-the blissful ignorance of proximity. They are only concerned with maximizing the present experience. My son will fall down, get really pissed, but then he gets back up to play again.
My daughter randomly comes to me with a big hug and says, “Daddy, I luuuuv you.” Even my cold dark heart of stone melts when she does this.
How simple and beautiful an existence like that must be.
John was genuinely happy to be there in the barber shop, with his mom, just waiting his turn.
I envied him. I wanted to be him.
In his own way, John was a better man in that moment than I am every day.
I even teared up a little, because all the riches in the world aren’t worth living a present and happy life. The art of being present is what I want to learn and soak up every little bit of life from each moment. For life is precious, and time will stop for no man.
Let it be said, when I die, Rusty Pang truly lived. Thank you John for reminding me of these important things.