Today was a busy day. I had lots of different individuals to meet. Of all different walks of life.
There was the one-legged bird on the beach to begin with. I called him Jed, for some reason. He hopped around pretty adeptly on his one little good leg. At some point in his life, he had run in to trouble though. This was evident.
Then, I met a coconut who reminded me a little bit of Tom Hanks, and a little bit of Edvard Munch. He could’ve been Wilson’s brother, in Castaway, or a coconut version of The Scream. Either way, he looked like he was, or had been troubled in the very recent past.
It just went on an on this way today. One meeting after the next. And all of them, a story.
And then there was Bilma.
Bilma cleans our room every day. She lives here on the Grand Cayman Island. She has since 1983. She was born a year after me, nearly to the day. April 23rd. But she looks 20 years younger than I do.
She cleans the room so thoroughly, with purpose. With a steady determination. Not only to do a good job, I think, but also just to get through it.
She lost a son three years ago. An accident. He was driving too fast and wrecked his car. He was drunk. He left four grandchildren for Bilma to care for. So she does.
Bilma has three children of her own, and she tries to tell them. She tries to tell them “Don’t be like your brother.” But they do it anyway. This makes her sad. But there is nothing she can do about it, she says.
Bilma talked with ease. But you could tell her words were on purpose. She meant each one. Yet, as she spoke, she never quit working; moving from one task to the next.
She is from Honduras, originally. She lives on one of the islands there. She goes back every year, for three weeks, to visit her family. On one of those visits, she was almost killed. At the hands of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Yes, in Honduras. They had to go up to the mountains. But she didn’t tell me anymore about that… except that she and her husband lost everything that year.
Many lost. She told me of a ship that ran into trouble then. A yacht. The people on board were very wealthy. They were from England. A battle ship when out to look for them, in the throws of the hurricane. They found the yacht, but there were no survivors. She said this was very sad too.
She pulled up from her stories for a moment, and leaned hard on her broom. It was as if something grabbed her by the back of the collar and stood her in the middle of the room. She was quiet for a moment, and then she spoke. “As you get older, you learn something new, everyday. Sometimes it is not an easy thing to learn, but you learn it anyway. I’ve seen my fair share of trouble.” And then she started sweeping.
Folks with troubles. In all walks of life. Each on with a story, and each with a lesson.
We live, and we learn. From each other.
And I am so very grateful for all of that.
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
― Albert Einstein
“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”
― E.M. Forster
“We are all failures- at least the best of us are.”
― J.M. Barrie