Sometimes we think we have challenges, but honestly we don't have any idea of what we are capable of doing.

Here's an example. As I walked into a Starbucks coffee shop the other day, I was surprised to see a dwarf hunched over in the corner. He seemed to be wrestling with a backpack on the ground. Not only was he very short, but he had no arms; only small stumps extended a few inches from his shoulders. He was tugging at the straps of the backpack with his teeth, trying to lift it up and turn it around. He looked like he was maybe twenty or twenty-five-years-old.

I watched for a moment as he fought with the backpack and its contents, trying without success to arrange things with his teeth, pulling and lifting. I wasn't sure what to do. No one seemed to be paying any attention. I don't know if he was hoping someone would step forward to assist, but I decided to ask.

I said, " Would you like some help, or would you rather do that yourself?," wondering if this way of posing the question would do, not wanting to sound condescending. He said "Yeah," with a puff and a smile of resignation, and I felt relieved.

Even with the use of my hands and arms, the task was not easy. A computer laptop had fallen out of the backpack and was pushing a black rain jacket onto the floor. The backpack kept flopping open. I finally got it arranged and then found that zipping it closed was not easy either.

When I was done, he asked me to sling it over his shoulder, leaning forward and extending his right stump towards me. The pack was heavy. Once we got it on his back, he thanked me, grabbed a donut he had placed nearby with his teeth, and walked over to a counter. I picked up my coffee order, turned and saw him walking out the door to stand at a bus stop, where he juggled the donut in his mouth, angling his face to the sky to prevent morsels falling to the ground.

I don't think he was the type of person to worry about how he was going to get things done; he just somehow did them.

As I walked away I thought: what an obvious reminder that was, out of the blue, to be thankful and count my blessings. And what a reminder from a stranger that "not trying" should never really be an option...

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  1. Great you asked first! Phil

  2. Yes, me too. It was an awkward moment of indecision.
    Thanks for the comment, Phil.