Some personal thoughts on human decency, opportunity and being present
Coming up on my third year in university, everything is an opportunity. When I see a familiar face in my classes, I like to reach out. If we’ve had several classes together, at this point I assume we’re interested in the same things. So naturally, let’s talk about that.
I see university as a starting point. A place where you set the foundation for the rest of your life. So many opportunities come our way here, and there are so many ways to be involved and do something.
That being said, I’ve found myself struggling with opportunity recently. I’m constantly looking for more, even though I am incredibly busy. I like to be busy. There is so much I want to do, and I feel like the time is now. In essence, the time is always “now.” I just need to feel present in my current projects and pursue those to the best of my ability instead of fantasizing about studying in New Zealand or Eastern Europe, volunteering up North or in the Caribbean, taking art classes in Italy. To combat this, I find myself trying to make connections with people that, frankly, might not amount to anything in the long run.
I suppose I can’t assume people have the same outlook as I do. While I’m in university, I’m also trying to make lasting friendships or simple connections with my peers, or at least practice common human decency. Nod or smile, grab opportunities when they come my way. In university, everyone’s caught up in their own opportunities, their own “now.” I try my best to be mindful about this. I know I am probably not alone in my escapist fantasies, and the solution to this is not forcing friendships.
But maybe you’re studying something that you aren’t really set on pursuing, maybe you really just want to do your work and get your degree so you can move on. Maybe you aren’t concerned with being a decent person and acknowledging familiar faces. Or, maybe you just don’t feel like talking. At this point, I don’t feel like talking either. But I do. I talk a lot.
At this point, we’re all in the same boat, right? Why not stand together? Solidarity in decency. But I’ve realized it’s harder to be decent than I thought. It’s easier to stay comfortable and not take those steps that could very well change your life, even if it is in the smallest way possible, like smiling at a stranger.
Last week, while walking up Guy St. from the TD Bank on Ste-Catherine St., I saw something I never expected to see in my life. Out of respect for the person, I won’t describe what it was I saw, but I’ll just say this person obviously needed help. I did notice, but because I was walking quickly, it only really hit me when I was in the metro. I didn’t put it together sooner. But what could I have done?
I could have smiled and asked this person if they needed assistance, if I could get something for them at the store that would help, call someone for them. All I can do now is hope that someone else did what I failed to do.
I was rushed, concerned with getting home to the comfort of my own bed. I, like those I have criticised, couldn’t bother to reach out; I couldn’t be bothered to even nod or smile. My point is, it’s hard to be decent and I need to stop putting pressure on myself and judging people for not aligning with my reality. After all, we’re all just doing our best.
Graphic by Ana Bilokin