May 9, 2011


Yesterday, during my walk in the park, I was caught in a downpour without my umbrella. Knowing the season, I’m usually prepared but on that morning, with the hope of sunshine brightening the clouds, I forgot to carry it. My mistake.  

As I scurried home with my collar turned up against the pouring rain, I came upon a homeless man who’d taken shelter under a pine tree. Seeing that he was old and his gray beard hung to his chest, I felt a pang of regret for I could do nothing for him. All that I had in my possession was a set of house keys. In recompense, he gave me a smile of recognition — one that said we were two strangers caught in the falling rain. He seemed content with that and returned a toothless grin.

Returning home, I found an email waiting for me. A fellow writer had forwarded the latest rejection for her novel. This one was different, however. The agent offered to put her in touch with a book coach, and she wondered what I thought of his proposal. 

I thought the offer posed a conflict of interest and was inclined to tell her to trash the email. Still, I held back. Perhaps I might rise to this occasion with an open mind. It was possible the offer of help was genuine. 

A little research disabused me of the notion. The man had no track record for placing any book with any publisher. I told my friend the truth but found I didn’t feel better for it. 

Later, I sat down with a warming cup of tea to consider the futility of my day.  There is no escaping a dilemma, I thought. Whether we play out our lives on a global scale or in an area no larger than our back yards, not a day passes which doesn’t pose a question about our duty to one another. The answers aren’t always clear.