a_lonely_road_by_alicexz-d5kgegf

He had spent most of his young life wondering where he fitted into things. He had tried football, but he wasn’t a footballer. He’d tried being popular, and he was worse at that than he was at football.

He had tried singing, acting, comedy, knitting (yeah, that was a disaster), writing, driving, working in a factory, and he succeeded at being useless at all of them.

A boy in his position might have gone off the rails and taken to stimulants, to make living a little more bearable, but instead he decided to shut down his life and wait for a change in the times.

He didn’t get depressed and stay in bed or anything. No, what he did was keep his head down; neither looking left nor right and this helped get him through the days, weeks, and years.

You’re saying to yourself what a waste of a life – but everyone, and I mean everyone, has wasted something in their lives. I guess you’re wasting valuable time reading this stuff. Still I’ve got you here, so we may as well plod on.

He never really had a relationship to speak of, as he considered himself too little in the world to be of any interest to anyone. But you know what? There is always someone watching you and wishing they could talk to you.

So he kept himself to himself, and kept his head down (as I was saying) and tried to be as invisible as possible. Then one day, one sunny, fine day, he was crossing the street and saw a woman carrying her child – one who was running to catch a bus.

The woman, who was wearing the worst shoes in the world to go running, slipped – and so she and her child fell into the road. He saw all of this and also saw that there was a bus coming which would hit the mother and child. He managed to grab the child and mother before any damage was done.

When you do that on instinct, there is no chance of keeping your head down and being invisible. He was called a hero in the local papers, and anyone who passed him wanted to shake his hand and talk to him. They all patted him on the back and it made him feel that he belonged for the first time in his life.

Things might have died away and returned to normal, if it hadn’t been for a young unhappy girl who threatened to jump from the top of the town hall. When the police tried to stop her, she said she would jump unless the man who saved the mother and baby came to talk to her.

While he was trying to keep his head down, and neither looking left nor right, the police came and collected him and told him a woman’s life depended on him. He talked to her and she asked why a man with no family and no friends (for that’s what the newspapers had said) was able to go on living. And he told her that he kept his head down and neither looked left nor right and he seemed to get to places. She said that didn’t sound like happiness, and he said that perhaps it wasn’t, but he said that he didn’t need anyone to keep him going. He said that if you can keep yourself content, then anything else is a bonus.

She told him that she was unhappy since everyone let her down, and people made her feel sad. And that was when the universe and he aligned, and he told her that happiness is not a god given right. Happiness is for you to make for yourself, and not to be placed in the hands of others. If you can be content with who you are (and considering the amount of trouble the universe has gone to make you, you should be) then when someone brings happiness into your life, then that too is a bonus. But never, ever, expect it from others – they weren’t put on this planet to make you happy.And she agreed with him and ran into his arms – and didn’t jump.

So now the man who kept himself to himself was even a bigger hero in the papers and crowds started to follow him and he found it hard to be alone. One evening when there was probably about 100 people following him, he turned and asked them all to sit down and that they did. He said that he had no idea what makes a person content but it must start with yourself. Only you can make you happy, and only you can fix a broken heart.

Some thought that he was cheating by saying that, because it was others who had broken the heart in the first place. He said that was exactly his point, your heart got broken because you trusted it with other people.

Then one girl put her hand up and said that it was good to need people, and to have people need you, it made you feel alive. Then she said that since he had been alone all his life he couldn’t understand that point. He thought for a moment, thinking that maybe she was correct, and then said, no she was wrong. If you love yourself first, then you can love others properly, but if you don’t love yourself and make others responsible for that point, then people are always going to break your heart, because you placed it in their hands.

And one little man at the back said that he didn’t like himself very much and didn’t see much of a chance of loving himself. He replied that we were all born to love ourselves and it was just that we got blinded to it, by others. Then he asked the folks that if they had a piece of paper then they were to write down all the problems they had – all of them, honestly put down. The problems would be anonymous and then each person was to throw the paper into the crowd and pick up another’s paper.

The crowd sat and read other folks’ problems and some laughed and some had tears running down their faces. Then the man asked who would swap theirs for the ones in their hands and you know what – no one wanted to. And that’s what he told them – be happy with who you are – the alternatives could be so much worse. It didn’t make all of them happy (or at least content) because as we know, some folks were born to be unhappy.

Happiness is your responsibility, he told them and they kept repeating that fact all the way home. Except for one wee man (and there must have been another) who had picked up his own piece of paper and felt that everyone must have the same problems as himself, and that made him happy too.

As for our hero, well he had finally found his place in the universe. It wasn’t grand and it wasn’t a world-famous footballer. He was just the man who mended broken hearts and that was good enough for him.

 

bobby stevenson 2017

Photograph: A Lonely Road  alicexz.deviantart.com

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