One of the ancillary effects of my trips to the world's greatest city is the opportunity to not only feel good about my own life, but to remember how fortunate I am to be where I am and not someplace else. A simple visit to a fast food restaurant can provide much more than calories, cholesterol and saturated fat.
If I sit there long enough, one of the less fortunate creatures among us will wander in, and seeing me alone with a bag of food, approach me for a handout. If you are the heartless type, you would be likely to tell them to get lost or get a job, but the part of me that believes "there but for the grace of God" always reaches into my pocket.
When I see them walking out with their own bag of food I know that for at least a little while, there is a person who isn't hungry. Their hunger returns though, and their fate is not always in my hands, so it is likely that their needs are not always being met.
What I think about as they are walking out is that the world is a diverse mix of people. Our needs are many but greatly different. A few blocks away there is a kid who wants a new iPod, and next to me is a grown man in need of a hot meal. How strange and sad that we have been made so differently, and that the world has been created so differently for some.
On my way home I passed a subdivision of new homes that cost $400,000. There will be no problem selling them. I also passed a man sleeping on a steam grate, wrapped in a blanket that is older than me. As far as he is concerned, those homes may as well be built on Mars.
Perspective is a fascinating thing, and if we lose it we lose something within ourselves.
I need to make more trips into the city.