I have often written about emotion that is very solid and recognizable – I am either saddened by events, or deeply touched by others. But I realize that another emotion that might also be moving is confusion. That in between all the things we know greatly sadden or touch us, we also learn a bit about ourselves through what confuses us.
I was driving home one afternoon and stopped at another busy intersection. This one has a long meridian in the middle. Almost every day, there is one homeless person who has claimed that meridian and walks up and down it slowly whenever there is a red light, hoping that in this long line up of cars, everyone waiting for the green – waiting to get going with their lives – that someone here with their foot on the break will notice them and spare some change. They almost always hold a cardboard that says “even nickels help.”
It so happened this afternoon that I had just been at a supplier meeting, and they had brought us many boxes of pizza for lunch. It was more food than a roomful of men could eat. And I had one box of leftovers (with only one or two slices delicately removed from it) sitting in my car. I think it had been on the floor of my front passenger seat.
I watched this young homeless man walk slowly up towards us, eyes looking out for any benefactors willing to lower their window and hand him something – anything.
I contemplated giving him the box of pizza in my car. But I hesitated. Confused and uncertain as to whether or not I wanted to do that. I felt that it would have drawn a lot of attention from the cars all lined up behind me if I had lowered my window and given him an almost full box of pizza – cold, albeit. There was no one at home that needed pizza, though. We had dinner waiting. None of us are crazy pizza lovers. I had only taken it home as to not let it go to waste and end up at the garbage at work.
In the one minute from which I struggled whether or not to do something that would have looked crazy to those around me in their own world of a little car, the light turned green.
I stepped on the gas, and slowly drove past this man.
Why didn’t I give it to him? Why did I care about looking crazy in giving something I didn’t need to someone who was homeless and hungry? Was it because the box was just slightly out of reach, and would have required for me to put my car into Park- pull the break, and reach further down to grab it? I wonder what his reaction would have been.
I think about that moment of confusion. What moves me from this moment is not anything of sentiment, per say. But just – the fact that you can generate so much emotion in one second of confusion. Maybe there are many times where we need to make decisions out of one moment of confusion. Do we always make the right ones? Probably not. And yet sometimes, we need to be a bit faster at it.