Today I met a man name Bruce. Bruce was standing against a stop sign, long wooden walking stick in hand, in bright orange snow pants, a winter coat, yellow-lens sunglasses, and a lavender knit hat with a giant pompom on top which covered his long white hair falling out of its ponytail. His face was wrinkled, his mouth crooked, and his words were slurred with the speech of a survivor.
I asked Bruce if this was where the shuttle picked up. “It certainly is, it should be here directly.” I set down my bag of groceries and prepared to wait.
“You’re a beautiful young lady.” I thanked Bruce. “I like to give compliments when I can,” Bruce told me. “There’s a quote that goes something like, you should always do good where you can because you never know when you’ll pass that way again.”
“Another beautiful day in paradise,” Bruce commented. I looked around at the nearly cloudless skies accenting the sharp mountain peaks in the distance and agreed. “This is why I live out here.” It’s why we all live out here, isn’t it? “It sure is. Came out here and never left. I’m living the dream out here.” We all are, everyone who lives here. We’re all living the dream. “That is true. We’re living the dream. We are the dream. Let me rephrase that: We are the dream. All of us out here – we be. We are the be people, we have that be attitude. We live in the now. We are the dream.”
“You know, I’m fifty-five now, and I’m gonna live till I’m one hundred and twenty.” (Could’ve fooled me; I would have guessed at least seventy.) You’re not even halfway there. “Got sixty-five years left.” That’s a lot of years. “Well if they go as fast as the last fifty five, that’s not so many. I love my life. I have fun.” That’s all that matters. “Sure is. I can’t complain.” That’s good. “You know, I never complain. When you complain, you ruin someone’s day.” That’s true. “I always speak the truth. I haven’t told you one thing that’s a lie.”
“You know, I love my life. I tried to commit suicide a bunch of times, but I’m glad I didn’t die. I love my life.” (Speechless.) “Last time I did it, I ate thirty Xanax and forty Aricept.” I wouldn’t just gotten sick of swallowing all those pills. “Well I chewed ‘em up. Ended up in the hospital, killed my liver. I was on the transplant list for a new liver – they had my name on that list. Then they gave me something to drink and it fixed my liver right up. I’m glad I lived.”
“You know what I really want to do?” What’s that? “I want to give meals to the homeless.” That’s a good thing to do. “You know, when you do things like that, you get back more than you give. Believe me. It doesn’t seem like it, but you do. Not enough people give anymore. It’s all ‘gimme gimme gimme.’ That’s no way to live. That’s why this world is going to hell in a hand basket.” It sure is.
“I’m sorry I’m lecturing you.” No problem, gives me something to think about while I’m standing here. “It’s important to do something, think about things, keep the mental garden growing. Whatever the human mind can conceive it can perceive – no, whatever the human mind can perceive, it can conceive. You know what I mean? You should never be bored. I always say, do something constructive. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re doing something. Never be bored.”
The bus came, and Bruce and I got on. “I enjoyed talking to you.” Yes, it was interesting, thank you. “Thank you. I don’t know if our paths will cross again, but I hope they do, I did enjoy meeting you.” It’s a small town. “Sure is, this town is a small town.”