Last September

I was at the train station on my way from school when I overheard something from a conversation between two men. I started writing this on my phone soon after.

“I wish you strength through your struggles.”

And I said “wow”. Two men had just hugged as their conversation drew to an end. White, tall, one with a cane, the other with a bag pack and a face like the bad guy in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie I can’t remember very well. He had meant it. I knew by his face that he had meant what he said, that he had been sincere in his well-wishing.

Strength through struggles. Wasn’t that a touching thing to say? It touched me, and I was across the platform waiting for the train coming in the opposite direction. Though I had heard the sentiment expressed before, I’d never heard those words put together in quite that way. Strength through your struggles. Isn’t that something we all need? Something we all need to be given by the ones around us? Because we’re all struggling?

At first I thought the one with the cane wasn’t participating in the hug. His legs were awkwardly set, and his left hand was by his side. I could see both the arms of the other man resting on his back. Then I saw them part, and the man’s right arm came down beside him with the cane in it. Oh. Maybe that was the most he could do. Maybe the most he could do was lift his right arm with his cane in it to return his friend’s embrace.

They kept talking for a while after. Guys are like that. They talk to each other a lot, and even after they’ve said goodbye there is more for them to say. I don’t know what those two men were talking about, I don’t know if they even know each other. But my immediate response to hearing that man’s words was to say wow. I couldn’t believe it. “I wish you strength for your struggles,” or did he say “through your struggles”? Whatever the case he gave the man strength. Or I’d like to think that he gave the man strength. And now I think wouldn’t it be nice if we all gave each other strength like that? If we all wished each other strength to go through our struggles? Because we’re all struggling.

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