News Letter When times are hard 4/ED

 When times are hard it is all too easy to feel alone.  To feel cut off from the people around you, and to feel like you are carrying a burden that no one else can understand or share, isolated by your own thoughts and fears.  But that feeling is an illusion.  If we can lift up our sight from our own introspection then we can see that we are not alone.  There are many people around us carrying their own burdens, locked alone inside their own illusions.  But we can break through.

Breaking through can come in the form of laughter reminding ourselves and others that there are still things to laugh at in this world.  It could come from making eye contact, and acknowledging each others presence as a reminder that we do exist and are worthy of respect.  Breakthroughs, where we manage to touch each other, can occur in many minute or profound ways, in an instant or over time, and they all share the same message; we are in this together.
I was walking through a local mall recently for no reason other than to take a walk.  I had no intention of buying anything and therefore had no reason or business being where I was.  I found myself there nonetheless.  As I was walking I stumbled across an art's fair on its last day.  The fair was full of vendors and their art work, but noticeably absent of customers.
I introduced this scene by saying I 'stumbled' across a fair, but it would be more truthful to say that the fair reached out to me.  As I was walking past, one of the vendors called out to me.  They didn't call out to solicit me, but to simply comment on the fact that I looked happy and they were glad to see someone walking who could smile.  Meeting someone who can genuinely share in a stranger's joy is unusual so I stopped and talked to the vendor and her husband while they set up shop.  I spent the next hour wandering from vendor to vendor, talking to them, with no intent to purchase anything, but just listening.  Rather than resent me for taking up their time with no financial gain, the vendors rewarded me with their story.
They had been struggling for years they told me, ever since the recession started in 2006.  When times turned tough one of the first things that people cut from their budgets was art.  Some of the vendors had lost their stores, most of them had experienced a bleak Christmas and were looking forward to another one.  They shared their frustration with me regarding the state of the economy, their anger about the debt talks that had paralyzed the country and put their financial future in jeopardy.  They shared as much of their pain as they were willing with a stranger that would listen, but what I took from them was their strength. 
Yes, times are hard.  Yes, they had been struggling for a while. But they are still there and they can still appreciate a strangers laugh.  Why do I share this story?  I share it because times are hard.  I share it because is about a community.  I share it because its been too long since our last newsletter, but although we have been quiet, we are still here, and we are still together.

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03 Aug 2011

By Howard