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Jarringly and Hauntingly Beautiful

A chance encounter and a stolen glance brings a message of our shared humanity. How the third shift workers, a man experiencing homelessness, and the sound of waterfalls is a lesson to us all.

Humanity is jarringly, hauntingly beautiful.

Amidst trials and tribulations, it subtly counterbalances the narrative. A silent reminder we can only witness, often fleeting but indelible upon our very souls.

Perhaps it was made more poignant as I had my eyes closed when the story was told. Imagery sharpened when vision was silenced. Homing in on a particular aspect of the story, a side bar in the plot, to me, became the alpha and the omega.

Steel towers glittered from lights within, a starry night of electricity and progress. Not to be outdone, city streets exhaled, lightened from the go, go, gogh of a holiday weekend. Darkened skies pirouetted day and heat to night and respite.

Distant airplanes soared, helicopters chopped, and air conditioners hummed.  Laughter scattered on the breeze from emptying restaurants, footstep metronomes keeping pace.

Tonight he found himself on the main city thoroughfare, the glue connecting downtown, midtown, and beyond.

Slim and wiry, old but not elderly, he laid out his things. A deep sigh escaped his lips, easing himself into a chair on an emptied restaurant patio, dimmed and silent from even the night shift employees who left hours ago. Safe as safe could be. Comfortable as sitting upright on a metal chair could be. Exhausted and weary, as only he could be.

Raised proper, or maybe a military background, gave him a propensity for folding his clothes just so. Lining his few belongings in a row on the table.

Leaning back into a more comfortable position, he closed his eyes. The tiredness ate at him. Sleep and deep sleep was all he desired but it remained far from reach. Regardless, he kept his eyes closed as a deterrent to others keen on talking or worse, urging him to rest elsewhere.

The third shift began emptying across the city, doing the work most forget happens, until it doesn’t. Eventually, the third shift handling the business of the night came to his sleeping quarters. A quiet and reciprocal peace between the workers and the man formed as tools and equipment were unloaded and services begun.

As the workers readied to leave, one took another glance at the sleeping man. Discreetly in his lap, the man’s phone played a video. Not a video of news or funny reels.

The sound of waterfalls.  

It was in that moment humanity was jarringly and hauntingly beautiful.

In the city of high rises and asphalt arose the sound of waterfalls. Held by one whose shelter formed from floors of concrete and ceilings of twinkling stars.

The land of plenty and the land of need, coalescing around the nature that binds us all.

The nature that reminds us of our humanity, and the humanity of others.

The beauty in others.

On that fair night, I hope he found the small bag that was left for him with food and water. But more than that, I hope he found rest. The rest only waterfalls make possible, quieting our minds and souls, so we find our way to peace.

Goodnight city,

Goodnight man,

Goodnight humanity.

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