At the museum my husband and I went to on Sunday, there was a girl who was about five years old, wearing a pink dress that flared out below the waist, making it fun for her to twirl around the open spaces. She walked past us several times as we were watching a video in one of the make-shift rooms. I kept my eye on her, because I didn’t see any adults around. A man with a name tag walked by and the little girl said, “My brother and I don’t know where our family is. We have lost our family.” I peeked around the corner and her brother was playing on a computer that was set up as part of the exhibit. The man told the girl to follow him up to the front desk. I was going to follow both of them to make sure the girl and her brother were reunited with their relatives, but a woman came around the corner and started talking to the girl, she took her hand. The boy ignored them and continued to play on the computer. I felt a sense of relief.
On our way home we saw a three year old boy walking by himself through a crowd of people. My husband said, “Is that boy lost?”
I said, “Let’s watch him for a few minutes.” We stood in the park and watched the boy move farther and farther away. Just before we were going to go after him, a woman pushing a stroller started to talk to him. It was clear he belonged with her.
We continued on our way home.
I thought about those two children, and how similar their situation is to someone who has had a break with reality. When I have been psychotic, I have been completely vulnerable, because when I am psychotic, I don’t know how to perceive people, or possible danger. I need someone to help me get to a safe place with safe people.
I have been fortunate that nothing bad has happened to me during the times that I was psychotic. People have stopped to help. Like a man who told me to get down from the hand rail of a pier that I was walking on; one slip and I would have fallen into a too shallow spot in the ocean. Then there was the man who pulled me from the bridge, and the other one who got me paramedics when I took all of my pills. There have probably been dozens of other ways that people helped keep me out of harm’s way as I walked for hours through the streets of Los Angeles, hallucinating.
Even though my credit card has been stolen five times in two years, in my life there have been more good people than bad people. We can all help make those odds true for everyone. I know the Bible quote, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In a better world we are. Look out for the vulnerable, keep your eyes on them. If nothing else, ask them, “Are you okay? Do you need help?”
The goodness in our heart is needed all the time, wherever we go. Let’s wear it like a badge to present to people who are lost, or hurting or scared. We can all be superheroes to someone, ask me, I have seen at least three.