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  • I didn't know you. But there you were, bending over yourself on the sidewalk peeling a sock delicately off your left foot.

    I had already smiled and quietly spoke 'hi' to another stranger a little further back down the road, but the sight of you with your backpack lying on the sidewalk behind you and your shoe thrown off to one side caught me off guard.

    I walked closer, staring at you intently through my sunglasses. My lips started to form a smile.

    Then I saw the blood. And a toe nail partly mangled.

    You turned to look up at me, having just removed the sock. Your expression wasn't one of pleading, pain or friendliness, or even of frustration or anger. It was matter of fact and expressionless.

    In that split second, when our eyes met through darkened lenses, I looked away and kept walking.

    I didn't stop or ask you if you needed help, although my mind had already worked its way through the conversation between us. Instead I left it unsaid.

    'Why did I do that?' I thought as I walked away. What kept me moving, silent, emotionally distant from a situation in which you might have needed some help?

    It was fear. Fear of you, the unknown. Fear of this place I now call home. Fear of my neighbors whose occupations appear suspect and whose mental health can often be called into question. Fear of being a single female in a crime ridden city. Fear that life isn't going the way I planned or hoped. Fear that I may get stuck here for longer than intended all the while the city of angels continues to call me.

    It was fear of the same story always playing out in my mind that this place isn't home and that I'll never be comfortable here. It's the fear that I'll never belong because I belong nowhere. Fear that the grass will always be greener when it's far, far away and holds the temptations of success, fame and all my hopes and dreams.

    Yet, no matter how many times I move and no matter where I go, that greener grass never appears.

    However, the fear does. That same fear that caused me to walk away from a fellow human being who was hurt and who needed at least to be acknowledged with the question, 'Do you need any help?' continues to haunt me.

    And that scares me. I get scared of my fear. Scared of the person my fear allows me to retreat into after all my practice to open up that former shell of insecurity, anger and the shunning of others.

    But this in itself is a gift. It's the gift of feeling, or questioning my motivations and the control I have over my mind. It's the gift which tells me that my work is not yet over and is far from being done. It's the gift which makes me think twice about my life and practice, which encourages me to smile a little bit wider the next time, and stop to help the next person I find in distress.

    It's the gift that reminds me to embrace the darkness within my soul, comfort it and console it so that tomorrow I may arise afresh, ready for a new day.

    It's the gift of life, and thankfully my days are not yet over.

    I begin. Again.

    Inspired by a true experience and this video from Kute Blackson:
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