The people in the farmhouse about a quarter mile away are playing music. It’s 10 pm and everything is perfect about this evening—the temperature, the slightly cool breeze, the song/dance of the crickets, and the Mexican music. Yeah, there is a family of Mexicans who live in that farm house. I’ve learned a lot living close to them. I learned how they celebrate life. Americans don’t know how to celebrate life. I realized that this weekend as I was kayaking towards Rocky Point Park. I passed all these enormous, beautiful homes and not a soul was outside enjoying the absolute perfect day on Sunday. I understand that many of the people who can afford houses of that size may have scooted away for the weekend, but all of them? And it’s always that way. All these big, beautiful homes with manicured lawns and everything in its place, except for people, of course. They’re nowhere to be found.
I had to laugh as the rolling tide rocked me from side to side. I could hear my brother and his friends on the pier. The breeze pulled their music out into the river. I could hear Boston playing from a quarter mile away and it made me smile. My brother’s house could certainly use a woman’s touch, a least a bar of soap, but those boys are happy. I would go so far to say they are delirious. All they need is their beer and their music and a catch of ten crabs in a round of picking up the collapsible traps.
My brother spends all weekend futzing around in a thirty-year rowboat, which tends to collect water, on the eternal summer quest for Maryland crabs. He is in his element out in that boat. He laughs, sings a little, and we talk about everything from what I’m looking for in a man to the reason why all wind dies at around two in the morning. Oh, a lot of people would be so quick to judge my brother. They’d say he’s lazy, a slob, that he has no ambition. I can still see him trying to find a way to open his Bud Light. There was not a bottle opener on the boat and I watched as he became increasingly anxious. Honestly I thought he would resort to trying to open it with his teeth, but instead he pulled out a lighter and flicked off the cap. He turns to me, all smiles, salutes me with his beer and says, “So you’re looking for an outdoorsy guy, eh? Can they do that?” I just laugh. No, I think, the outdoorsy guys I know can’t do that. Well, they don’t have to, because they don’t drink.
I’ve learned a lot in the past eleven months. I learned you can’t judge ANYONE. No one really sees the truth. They see bits and pieces and we all interpret things differently. Take my brother, for example, I imagine a lot of people would consider him lazy and selfish. I know I did. There were many occasions that I got so frustrated with him because he didn’t visit on the weekends. Now I know why. The time on the boat is his respite. He’s in a different world out there. All the anxiety and frustration from his job dissipates and he feels alive. He told me that on Sunday. He told how the water makes him feel, that for five dollars in gas and another ten in chicken necks, he’s happy as a clam all weekend.
Then there are my neighbors, the Mexicans. Oh, I can still hear them over there. They are a happy bunch. Yeah, like my brother, they love their beer and their music. They work hard, too. They are gone before I wake up in the morning, which is around 6:30, and I don’t see their truck pulling in until around 8 p.m. But do you think they complain? Do you think they grovel? No, they are so grateful for the opportunity to be in this country; and when the workday is over, they are celebrating. With us native born Americans it always seems to be work, work, work. Work all day then come home and work on one thing or another all night. We don’t know how to relax. We don’t have time to think.
I’ve realized there is something to be learned from everyone I meet. And I also learned there is beauty in everyone. If we stop judging, if we stop wondering what people can give us and simply accept them for who and what they are, all the anxiety, all the anger and frustration disappears.
Take my crab-lovin’ brother. Through judgment’s eyes, my brother may appear lazy and teetering towards slob. Yeah, the crab-lover is a little rough around the edges and he is a slob, but what I saw this weekend just opened my eyes. I always knew this tough guy had a heart of gold. I experienced it firsthand growing up, but this weekend, I saw true compassion in my brother. He has a friend whose child is mentally challenged. My brother took this child-adult under his wing all weekend. This boy spent Labor Day out on the boat with my brother. He was thrilled pulling up those crab traps…actually broke his record and caught eleven crabs in a round. His eyes were round as saucers. He was so pleased with himself. Yeah, I would have enjoyed pulling up the traps, but I experienced such joy in the exchange between my tough-guy brother and this mentally-handicapped boy. I just sat in the bow of the boat and watched the boy’s incredulous excitement as he discovered another trap with a crab, and watched my brother being very gentle, very kind. My brother never criticized, not a once.
Time has produced so many revelations. I cannot change events nor do I have control over other people. All that wishing and wanting is debilitating and only leads to frustration. Expect nothing, need nothing…and suddenly you receive everything. I must live in the moment and I must live for me, my happiness. There is no way that I can truly love another person if I don’t love and accept myself first. And If I keep my eyes and my heart open, truth will reveal itself. I am meeting the most extraordinary people lately—people who I may have once considered selfish— they are self-sufficient people and they have an incredible peace about them. And they are happy…so happy! I’ve decided I like their independence, their love for life. I need, more than anything, my eyes wide open.