Looking over the fence

I'm a big fan of Freecycle. Freecycle is a movement to keep items out of landfills by offering unwanted items to the local community (typically by email postings via Yahoo! groups), and giving the items away. It's great for those people, like me, who have crap they don't want, don't use any more, but either don't want to go through the hassle of selling it on eBay, or realize the item has little value.

I like getting rid of my junk. I like that I didn't throw it in the garbage. I like that it can be used more.

Sometimes, the timing works out well where I'd like to pick something up from the list. Like today, for example. I'm trying to recover from an injury, so when a piece of exercise equipment was offered, I contacted the offerer via email. At the offerer's request, I called to arrange a pickup time for the item.

The call was a bit uncomfortable for me.

I tried to be cheerful. This person was giving me a relatively expensive piece of equipment. I'm going to be as excited as I can be on the phone.

The voice on the other end of the line, however, sounded depressed. It was also hesitant, and, crap, I'm not going to explain this well, and I'm probably projecting here, but also lacking self esteem.

The voice reminded me of a coworker back in L.A. This guy had everything in his life go wrong. Everything. His wife was a chronic shopaholic, spending so much money on credit cards that even the second mortgage wouldn't cover the bills. He never stood up for himself. He didn't trust his decisions. He couldn't talk to anyone above him at work. I'm pretty sure I intimidated the hell out of him.

Crap, I can't even remember this guy's name.

Before I met him, I believed that, with desire and a bit of effort, that people could fundamentally change; that people could break out of their shells and realize their potential; that people could learn, achieve.

I figured, if I could come out of my shell, do the things I do, learn what I've learned, and accomplished what I've accomplished, then anyone could. Right?

Well, after I worked with this guy for a bit, I realized that, no, there are some cases that even with a lot of work, won't ever break from that shell. I can't say "hopeless," but I wouldn't say "hopeful" either.

The voice at the other end reminded me of this ex-coworker. Reminded me of the people who don't have the resources and opportunities that I have and have had. Reminded me how much a desire to be more than this can drive a person.

Reminded how far I had come on my journey.

I'm glad to have made it this far.