Anyway, this particular Saturday I was pacing back and forth; lots of pent-up energy gnawing at my brain. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was staring into what used to be my “tweaker” room (now a guest bedroom) when I noticed a radio controlled airplane my younger brother had given me. A wave of resentment swept over me as I remembered it. He gave it to me saying how proud he was of me, that I had finally gotten clean. He was such a hypocrite. He was high at the time himself. I had put it together. I didn’t even try to fly it. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. How weird is that?!
“Why not?” I thought, “Let’s give it a try.” So I headed to a nearby park. The park had a large paved area with 4 basketball hoops, enough room for take off and landing. When I got there no one was playing basketball. There was a bunch of kids playing soccer to the right of the courts. Some kids were throwing a frisbee next to that, and on the other end were a number of families picnicking and throwing water balloons.
“Surrounded!” I thought. Feeling self-conscious I headed towards the courts. Already, I felt dozens of eyes on me as I carried this bright yellow plane towards the center of all this activity. One little boy caught my attention. Maybe 9 or 10 years old, he was watching the kids throwing the frisbee around. Then he’d run back to his mother who was lying on the grass by some trees. She’d shoo him off, with a wave of her hand, as if to say, “Go play.” He’d shuffle his feet a bit then go watch the soccer players for a while. Then back to his mom, she’d shoo him off again and with tears in his eyes, he’d reluctantly go watch the kids throwing the water balloons. This went on for a while, and I gradually began to identify with this kid, who was stuck here but didn’t belong. Neither of us fit in. Meanwhile, I was having a terrible time with this plane. I couldn’t get it off the ground more then 2 or 3 feet before it’d nosedive back to earth, much to the delight of everyone around me.
I was getting angry with myself for being too stupid to be able to fly a little toy airplane, and was transferring my anger towards that woman for making her child try to play where he didn’t fit in.
Finally, after one more nosedive into the ground and a bunch more laughter from the bleachers, I was about to give up when I noticed this little boy watching me. No longer near tears, a look of amusement on his face. I motioned to the plane. He looked at his mom. She waved to him, okay. That was all it took. He grabbed the plane and brought it to me, just beaming. So I showed him how to straighten up the wings, and we tried it again. Well, at least I didn’t have to go get the plane every time it crashed, but I still couldn’t get it off the ground. And I was still the object of everyone’s laughter. Finally, I looked at the kid and held out the controls to him. He ran across the court in a flash. After a quick demo, he took the controls and right away the plane took off and flew about 50 or 60 feet before crashing into a tree. There was a roar of cheers from all over. This little boy was ecstatic as he tore off running towards the plane.
Then, an extraordinary thing happened. The soccer ball came rolling across the boy’s path, and he gave it a kick that sent it sailing across the soccer field and into the street. And he just kept on running towards the plane. As he was returning with the plane, he was near tears because the plane’s wing was torn. I assured him that it could be fixed and it wasn’t his fault. I was just amazed that he flew the plane on his first try. That was when two of the boys who were playing soccer came up and asked him if he would play with them. I was forgotten as he ran off with his new friends.
I had mixed feelings as I headed towards his mother, glad that I no longer was the object of everyone’s laughter but still angry. This lazy woman never even got up from her spot. Let a perfect stranger, and an old man at that, play with her son?! I was ready to tell her a thing or two when I saw the crutches. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at her face. Tears were streaming down her face as she mouthed the words “thank you” to me. I knelt down beside her, both of us crying, both of us saying thank you to the other. She told me her husband had recently died in an auto accident, and she was still recovering. Her son had withdrawn into a shell, so over the last month or so, she brought him to the park every Saturday, hoping he would make friends. This was the first time anyone had even noticed them.
She touched my arm and said she’d be forever grateful, that I was so kind, and on and on. I felt like a real jerk, ashamed how self-centered I had been. I shared how I, too, was grateful. Her son had pulled me out of my state of depression and selfishness. I walked away that day having felt the hand of God on my soul. I finally had a sense of what everyone had spoken of—a feeling of what God was all about.
I thank the fellowship of CMA for the amount of clean time I had. If it wasn’t for that, I never would have experienced all the emotions I felt that day. I finally understood what they meant when they said to give it a chance. Stick around until the miracle happens. They say the hardest gift you can give yourself is the gift of time. I say it’s the greatest.