Recently I was reminded of a story I heard many years ago. I have no idea where it came from. And while it’s not a joke—perhaps I’ll do a better job with retelling this thoughtful tale.
A young successful man was driving through a neighborhood, going a bit too fast in his new sports car.
It was summer. He knew kids were out of school and could be playing near and in the street. He watched for unexpected children—or dogs—to dart out from the trees and cars that lined the street.
He caught something from the corner of his eye, and slowed down.
Suddenly a brick smashed into the car’s side door.
Slamming on the brakes, he jumped out of the car and saw a lone child at the street’s edge. He grabbed him firmly by the arm. Digging his fingers too deeply into child he shouted, “What are you doing?! Why did you throw that brick? Do you see what happened? That’s a very expensive car? Where are your parents? Where do you live?”
The small boy choked back tears and stammered, “Please, sir. I’m—I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to do…”
Between sobs he continued, “I threw that brick because I couldn’t get anyone to stop. I didn’t know what else to do…” And then he pointed to something the man could not have seen from the street.
Silent but alert.
In the gutter.
With a wheelchair by his side.
The man quickly ran to the disabled child and asked if he was okay. The child didn’t answer, but just stared with big eyes. The brick throwing boy said, “He can’t speak.”
As the man up righted the heavy wheelchair, he carefully picked up and placed the disabled boy back into the seat. He turned to the speaking boy and asked what happened.
Big tears spilled down his face and neck, leaving steaks of clean skin in their place, “My brother and I—we were only playing. I pushed too hard. We wanted to go fast. But—but—I don’t know how—we rolled off the curb. He fell. And I couldn’t lift him back up, he’s too heavy.”
The man surmised the silent handicapped boy was okay, then told them to not move as he ran over to his car and returned with a bottle of expensive water and a freshly dry cleaned shirt.
As the man consoled the young boy, he began to clean the scraps and small cuts on his brother. A second look over the two brothers confirmed to him that everything would be okay. And then he wiped the tear-stains off the boy who stood by his brother’s side.
“Thank you sir. Thank you. I’m sorry. Please don’t tell. Please don’t. I’ll be in so much trouble. And I’ll never do it again. Please?”
The man nodded, trying to remain stoic–but the tears began to rim his eyes. As quickly as the indecent happened, it also ended. He watched the boy carefully pushed his chair-bound brother down the sidewalk. The man sat on the ground in his now dirty suit. Stunned. Silent. Until the boys disappeared around the corner.
Walking back to the sports car, the damage was severe. The dent and scratch were deep. As deep as the lesson learned.
As the story goes, the man never did repair the car.
Because he never wanted to forget what he learned that day. It was a life-lesson he was all too happy to tell others every time they saw the dent and made mention of it.
His revelation went something like this: Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick towards you—or at you—just to get your attention. Be mindful. Be present. Be observant.
When your soul is stirred. Slow down. Pay attention.
It will always start as a whisper. But if you don’t hear it because you are letting life be to fast and loud and out-of-control—eventually that “thing” you caught out of the corner of your eye could become a brick.
So take the time to stop.
And listen to the whispering stirs.