OK, this one is personal. I am writing this with scraped hands, a leg propped up, and an ice pack on my knee. No, no one pushed me over. That's not exactly where the jerk part comes in.
Actually, what happened may have been even worse. I'll let you decide that. But as I was walking to my parking garage after work, I slipped on an acorn (those damn things are everywhere now) and took a pretty bad tumble. I banged up my knee nice and good, and my hands began bleeding almost instantly. The contents of my purse, according to Murphy's law, emptied themselves in their entirety onto the pavement. (And why is it that the tampons always end up the furthest away?)
Here's the jerk part. Four people were nearby, the furthest at no more than 50 feet, the closest about 20 feet behind me. And guess what? They all looked at me, but no one said a good goddamn thing. Not even a tentative I-don't-really-know-how-I-can-help-but-I'll-ask-anyway "Are you okay?"
Not even from the father LEADING HIS SON IN HIS BOY SCOUT UNIFORM. People talk about setting an example, but I don't think that's generally what they mean.
Do I sound a little angry? Maybe even a little overly angry? Maybe. But here's why this bothers me. I'll be fine, yes, but that's not the point. The point is that we must never become so self-involved that we fail to help someone when we can. That is when we fail to be human. Once or twice won't turn you into the grinch, but a lifetime of looking the other way will, and then, I'm sorry to report, you won't ever find your bliss, because you will no longer have the soul that is required to find bliss. That's why getting pushed is actually less terrible: at least someone pushing you is doing so out of motivation, anger, some reason. Someone ignoring what they plainly see is someone too small and mean to care. I submit to you that that is worse.
If you want to live a good life, the one that you are meant for, you must never forget how to be generous. How to serve. How to inconvenience yourself occasionally for others because it is the right thing to do. How to care for someone less fortunate. How to feel empathy. In other words, I am saying that yes, on the path to bliss, it is important to be a good person.
One day after class at the University of Arizona, I was on my bike, getting ready to leave for home, when I saw a suspicious guy hanging around the bike racks. Now, the UofA is a notorious bike thief's paradise, so I kinda figured I'd watch him. And sure enough, he kept going back and forth between crouching near a bike and then standing around like everything was completely normal. A few people passed me, and I said, "I think that guy is trying to steal a bike," and they all looked me like, "Oh. Fascinating," and moved along. I realized no one was going to call campus police, so I started circling him on my bike, staring him down.
It was really a battle of wills--who was going to get scared and give up first--one that I won, though after about 5 minutes. As soon as he left, I rode to the nearest campus police phone box, and called them in.
As I waited for the cops, I felt really good about looking out for someone, hoping that someone else might do the same for me. The cops showed up, and I started to give them my report when the bike's owner showed up. She lifted the bike's cable lock, and sure enough, it had been nearly clipped through. She came up to me, thanked me for protecting her bike, and then she said this: "Yeah, this is really great, because right now my bike is the only transportation I've got. My car was stolen last week."
And in that moment, I felt a surge of happiness. My small sacrifice of time and energy had really made a difference in this girl's life. It's the kind of thing I try to do as often as I can, and I know it has the effect of preparing your soul, your heart, your life for more happiness and bigger responsibility. Because if you think living your bliss doesn't come with responsibility, then you're not conceiving of your bliss properly. For, if nothing else, your bliss requires that you do the best you can, all while remaining a good, generous and honest person.
So the next time you see someone down, it's not enough just to not kick them. You must also not ignore them (though you can pretend not to see the scattered tampons). Just do what's right. Because jerks don't get to experience bliss.