Too busy.

Anonymous crowd of people walking on city street


I was in the car one day. Yes, the car. I sat in the passenger seat. The car that cost money to buy. The car that costs money to maintain. The car that costs money to put gas into.

I was with my mom in that car. Yes, my mom. She was driving. A woman who loves me. A woman who cares about her family. A woman who is beyond selfless.

I was with my brother in that car too. Yes, my brother. He sat in the back seat. My little brother who makes us laugh. My little, creative brother. My little brother who wants to become a detective.

We had packed a lunch. We were going to meet some people for lunch. We were stopped at a red traffic light.We were in one of two lanes of traffic heading in the same direction.

Now stop; and consider this question: would you consider yourself a busy person? Lots of things to do, places to be, people to care about? It’s not a bad thing if you do consider yourself to be a busy person. It’s not a bad thing if you do not consider yourself to be a busy person either.

As we were waiting at this traffic light, listening to the radio, out of the corner of our eyes we saw a guy walk halfway across the crosswalk. He stopped once he had reached the middle of the two lanes and proceeded to walk down the middle. He looked to be in his early to mid-twenties. He had a soft expression and his eyes remained, for the most part, averted from all of the drivers’ eyes. You could see the stubble on his face; grown almost to the point where it was so long that you could no longer rightly call it stubble. A shadow of a moustache and beard covered his face, but it was obvious it had not appeared because the owner had wanted it to. His face was smudged with some dirt, though it was evident he had tried to clean up the best he could. He wore a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Both looked fairly worn, and as though they had not been washed for a while. As for any other possessions, he had a small backpack on his back that looked as though it had been engrained with dirt. As he approached and passed the cars, you could feel something.

What was it?

I think it was the human instinct or the “gut feeling” everybody talks about having. It was that deep “something” that was pulled up from the depths of your soul that influences how you feel about a person or situation upon your first interaction with them.

There is one word, and one word only, that I can use to describe this young man. He epitomizes this word; without parting his lips to use his voice, without raising a finger to do anything to convince you, and without any sort of direct interaction with anyone he encounters.

He was humble.

Though any interaction we might have had with this man, and complete stranger at that, was separated by a thick piece of glass, we were also separated by a world. We were in two very different worlds that somehow managed to be in the same time zone.

As he passed each car, he would quickly glance up and make eye contact with the driver. His head would then snap back down to gaze at the ground with humility, and with a small nod that was intended to be directed towards the driver, he then moved on to the next person. He repeated this with each car and each driver on either side of him. Both of his hands were gripping the sides of a cardboard sign. It read:

“Homeless and hungry

Any little bit helps

God bless”.

Before he reached our car, my mom turned and asked us if we thought he needed it.

I often overhear people talking about the homeless problem. You often hear of people who are skeptical as to whether or not they should help those who live on the streets. They wonder whether that homeless person is “worthy” of their help, and they are mistrustful as to how they will use the money. Drugs? Or their next meal?

Some argue that living on the streets is a choice. And if those who live on the streets wanted to change their life, then they would. Others might offer that sometimes one needs an opportunity; they need that small, extra something to help them get through until they can manage to pull themselves back up again.

When deciding whether or not to give (specifically) money to a homeless person, it isn’t that you question whether or not that person is “good” or “bad”, and use that answer to determine if you help them or not. It is simply the fact that one can easily become skeptical of others actions, as they are a complete stranger. In this particular situation especially, because society has created a stereotype for this population. And although this stereotype may apply to some of the population, it is not fair to let a stereotype define the entire group. There are always exceptions, with anything in life.

You have to choose what you believe in this world, and you have to let your instinct guide you in these choices.

By the time that this man had reached our car and had sheepishly made eye contact with us, we had all froze, we didn’t know what to do.

The lines engraved on his face were like a map of his life; a map of the experiences he had encountered, the battles he had fought, the sights he had seen, and the emotions he had felt. His eyes were wide, soft, but seemingly lost. Worried.

He continued to walk inbetween the two lines of cars, step by step in his beaten up shoes.

The light turned green, and my mom continued to drive. Tears welled in my eyes.

The music was turned down, and the silence began to shout at us.

As we spoke, our voices were all filled with regret, it was evident that we all felt ashamed that we had done nothing to help this young man. We all admitted that there was something about this guy that had, quietly, genuinely, screamed for help.

During lunch, my mom told the story. During dinner, my brother told the story.

I think the encounter has long since faded in their memories; replaced with more memorable recent ones.

But not for me.

I often wonder where this guy is now. I wonder how he is doing. I wonder if anybody has given him food or some change they figured they could spare that day. I wonder what his childhood was like. I wonder what he had dreamed of becoming when he was growing up. I wonder what has driven him to the streets. I wonder where his parents are. I wonder where his friends are. I wonder if he has any siblings. I wonder why anybody who might know him won’t help him.

But more than anything, I wonder why everybody who doesn’t know him and is seeing him struggle, won’t help him either.

I’ve decided that perhaps this is because we all claim to be too busy.

We are too busy and absorbed with our own problems, that we are unable to open our hearts to the apparent pain of others.

Every stranger you pass on the street, you must realize, has their own complicated lives with their own struggles and pain. However, I think it’s ironic that those who we can physically see suffering, firsthand, we choose to ignore.

All of those people he had passed, who were sitting in their cars, were too busy to help him. They were too busy thinking about what had happened that morning. They were too busy worrying about how they looked, and what they were wearing. They were too busy being absorbed in their own life’s problems. They were too busy wondering if their car needed gas, and if they would be able to make it to where they were going on time. They were too busy impatiently waiting for the light to turn green. They were too busy.

Too busy to notice this incredibly humble man, walking beside their car, asking for anything that might help him live. Anything that might help him make a better life for himself. Whether that be a sandwich or a $5 bill. It doesn’t matter anymore, because they were all too busy.

We live in such an incredible country, in such a rich province, and in such a developed city. It seems that because we live in such a socially advanced place, there shouldn’t be a problem where people are struggling to get by. But why are there people suffering like this?

We are all too busy.

It’s not necessarily the fact that we don’t want to help others. Of course humankind naturally wants to fix others problems, and eliminate the suffering of those who are closest to their hearts. It’s just that the people who manage to slip between the fingers of today’s society, manage to slip through unnoticed, because the rest of us are too busy with our own lives. Life distracts us with all it presents for both ourselves and those who are very close and dear to us. But that makes us blinded as to the suffering that life has decided to present others with.

Often times we are so busy trying to improve ourselves, that we become obsessed with becoming this “ideal” person that we have in mind. This blinds us from the real life opportunities we are presented with; opportunities that allow us the chance to prove that we are all of these wonderful and beautiful things, by applying them to our lives with authenticity, selflessness, and pure genuineness. However, we are too busy creating this 2.0 version of who we are, and trying to convince and make ourselves believe that we are this version of ourselves, that we are only ever able to become this person in theory, not in reality.


Because we are all too busy.

I think once we realize this, we think back to the times where this might have applied in our lives, and an overwhelming sense of regret and guilt comes over us. It might feel as though we were so selfish and wrapped up in our own lives, and with our own problems (that in retrospect seem so small), that we didn’t take the time to realize the obvious pain that those surrounding us were facing. But although humankind can be incredibly selfish, humankind is also known to be incredibly selfless. Perhaps what we need to do, is at times shift some of our selflessness over to those whose suffering we wouldn’t have typically noticed.

Why wouldn’t we have noticed?

Because we were too busy.

To this day, I still wonder about this young man. I think I will always wonder where he is, about who he has become, and about what his life has become.

I hope he is okay. Because if he isn’t, I would find it impossible to not feel personally responsible.

To this incredibly humble and struggling man:

I am so sorry I was too busy.


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6 thoughts on “Too busy.

  1. Dear Taylor,

    I am currently sitting 5 seats away from you in this point at time, and I am afraid to even look your way in fear of the tears brimming in my eyes spilling over.

    This was beautiful. This was heartbreaking. This was burning with honesty, and vulnerability, and an enormous wave of regret. Your writing is absolutely breathtaking – your choice of words, the effort put in to the tiniest details, the raw emotions you displayed are all outstanding.

    I connect with this greatly, a fact that I really hate to admit. Every so often, I do pass by someone holding a limp cardboard sign in trembling hands, and I do not do anything. I make up excuses and lies that weave their way in to my being, guiding me away from this individual and back in to my guilt-ridden, busy little life.

    I help, sometimes. But ‘sometimes’ is not enough, and you know that, I know that, humanity should know that. But we stay in our cardboard-cut busy lives, saying we don’t have enough time to stray over these frail dotted lines to help someone much less fortunate than ourselves. I hate this, so very much. I hate how uncaring I, and others, become when it comes to someone who has suffered far more than myself.

    I commit, after reading this wonderful piece, to give something, anything, to help a homeless person if I pass by them. To not do so would destroy my morality further – yet my morality is not more vital than their livelihood. I will do it for their livelihood, do it for you, Taylor, do it for the man with the humble eyes and the face lined with experience.

    Thank you very much for this eye-opening experience.


    1. Dear Claire,

      Wow, thank you! I’ve read your blog posts, and I love them so much. You’re an amazing writer, and I can never form a coherent enough comment to express my appreciation for your words, so to have you comment on my blog is an honour.

      Your words mean a lot to me. Thank you, they are helping me grow. I am lost for words because I am extremely grateful for your kind comment. I am so happy, and feel fulfilled that I have touched someone with this piece. After reflecting on this piece I know I have made a pact with myself to make sure I don’t just try ‘sometimes’ but try all of the time, and commit to that. It moves me to know that someone else might feel the same way too.

      I can’t express enough gratitude for your comment. Thank you so much.


  2. Dearest Taylor,
    Thank you so much for giving us all the opportunity to read and reflect upon this amazingly profound piece!
    First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your awesome ability to connect to your audience. This is a pattern that I am starting to notice throughout your writing. Your short and to-the-point sentences in the beginning of the piece help to establish a flow that is engaging and insightful to me, and I am sure this applies to many others as well. The repetition present in the first couple of paragraphs also gives the piece a specific tone right off the bat, which is a smart choice! Good job 🙂
    Another thing that I really love in this peace is the representation of humility and the forms of ignorance that occur throughout people’s lives in today’s society. The way in which you described these powerful motifs is so simple and yet so intricate. It made me stop in my tracks while reading. Wow.
    The only thing that I would suggest in the future is to elaborate a tiny bit more on your personal thoughts. I love them so much, and they add a lot to your style!!!
    Once again, thank you for allowing me to read this wonderful piece, and I cannot wait to read more of your writing!! 🙂


    1. Dear Carmen,

      Your comment means a lot to me, and went straight to my heart. I am so glad that you feel as though my writing can connect to you, and others, somehow. That makes me happy!

      Thank you so much for your kind words. They honestly mean so much to me that, ironically, words can’t describe it. Thank you for your feedback as well, I will definitely try to do that in the future. I really appreciate you providing me with that to build off of.

      And thank YOU for reading and commenting on my writing man! It means a lot.


  3. Dear Taylor,

    Your writing is masterful and truly outstanding within this piece. You acknowledge something that is an evident occurrence within everyday life, something we can all relate to, yet seemingly fail to consider as often as we should.

    Within the first few paragraphs of your piece, you changed narration and decided to ask the audience a question. This in itself can simply be difficult to do, for it can seem awkward. But your question belonged there; this proves the contemplation and configuration presented within your writing. Your question causes the reader to develop more connection to your piece as they are able acquire personal relations.

    I have encountered this experience many times myself. When I was a little child, I was inquisitive to as why my parents never opened their window when the old man with sad eyes knocked. I told them to, but they hushed me. I remained quiet. They were afraid of the man, and indirectly instilled fear within me. I got older and still that fear remained, though I felt sadness. I felt guilty of the actions we had committed. As you mention, stereotypes develop, and what is most daunting is to have the courage to disengage yourself from such a perception, for sometimes it is all you have known.

    Now you say there are always exceptions. This statement within your piece is what served as my ultimate internal reflection and encouraged me to change my perception. Quite simply to put it, Taylor, you have most entirely changed my perspective. That fear, it now seems somehow irrational and insignificant, though I will not lie, it quietly lurks. So I inquire, do you think fear will always be associated with homeless individuals, or is one able to disengage themselves from such a thought?

    When you mention we are busy through the eloquent use of repetition within your piece, it served to me as recognition. This being “too busy” sometimes serves as an excuse to not help, to remain as a bystander and give distance to a predetermined fear we have conjured. For we never know the truth unless we delve into it, but we are “too busy” to take the surging step forwards.

    Taylor, I must thank you for your amazing writing. I am so glad you are in AP, your perception beautifully ties the obvious, (what we remain ignorant towards or choose to ignore), and causes one to contemplate. Your ability to do such a thing is a power that can change countless minds and instill enlightening perceptions.



    1. Dear Sadia,

      Your kind words have filled my heart with warmth and gratitude. Thank you so much for reading my blog and commenting on it. As I have said to all who have commented on my blog, I wish to simply express how grateful I am to your comment. It means so much to me. I know I say this to everyone, but I hope my genuinity comes through each time; I honestly don’t think I would find enough “courage” or whatever you want to call it, to post my thoughts.

      I can honestly say I do not think fear will always be associated with homeless people. For me personally, no longer am I “scared”, however I do not think I was ever scared or presented with anxiety when in the presence of a homeless person. Just because they are homeless does not, in any way, shape, or form, degrade them or make them any less human than any one of us. They still have the capacity to be beautiful people. They still have hearts and minds. They are still incredible individuals who have been given the gift of life; for a reason.
      For each person however, it will differ depending on the situations and experiences one has encountered.

      Thank you so much again for all of your kind words. They have definitely touched my heart in ways words can not describe.


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