“Man shoots another man at Walmart over a toaster,” reads a headline.
He leaves his apartment, head lowered, not wanting to look “us” in the face, shoulders drooped from the burden of “our” behavior. We’ve made clear our priorities, money over people, material things over humanity. And he feels it, the weight of it all, maybe more than most. His feet drag the dirty floor from the heaviness.
The hallway of his project building only adds insult to injury, smelling of piss and yesterday’s drink. He steps over old, discarded appliances, cruelly replaced with brand new members of the household bought at a fraction of their value, or at least their price. The smell of urine becomes suffocating.
He exits his building and the cold, autumn air hits his face, steals his breath. And at that moment he hears the most beautiful sound, a song undoubtedly sent by the heavens, the uninhibited, magical laughter of a child. He looks up and sees a toddler, unattended by his older sister who’s sitting and texting on a bench several feet away. She’s completely unaware of the child’s careless brilliance, as he runs in circles, being chased by nothing but something at the same time, cackling from the bottom of his little being.
Tears well up in the man’s eyes as he watches the child; surely it was the cold air that transformed his eyes into tiny ponds. The child’s laughter fills the man’s heart, not missing the cracks and crevices that had not seen light in months, years even. He feels a warmth grow in his chest. And at that moment, he knows that “we” are still there somewhere, even if “we” are hidden deep in the joy of a child’s laugh that we have suppressed; it is there we still live, there we still love.
And so, like a crazy person, the man begins to cry and laugh. He runs after the child, whose sister continues to text, unaware. The tiny little boy pauses for a moment, looks up at the approaching giant, lifts his tiny finger and points at the man’s face. The man stops, afraid he has done something wrong. Then, like a call to dance, the tiny little fellow lets out an elated squeal, and runs and laughs, harder and faster than before. The man’s face breaks in half with a smile, and he runs after the child. They run in circles and laugh, for what feels like an eternity, beautifully weaving “us” back together, one revolution at a time.
I wrote this piece back in 2012 but never posted it here. I felt like sharing it this year. I boycott Black Friday every year because I hate what it turns us into―I hate when we put money over lives, property over people. That seems to be a running theme this year here in America, unfortunately. So, this year, I encourage us all to boycott Black Friday.