Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Good Deeds, Humanity and Man's Most Glorious Task

This afternoon I decided to take advantage of the beautiful spring day and write outside for a bit. I went to the Little Norway Park located a short distance from my condo building. The sky was blue and cloudless, the air warm with a gentle breeze. I took refuge from the bright sun on a bench shaded by the pine tree branches overhead. I could finally smell spring in the air.

Writing, I was easily distracted by the noises and activities going on around me. The children laughing and smiling as they roamed about the playground, moving from one piece of equipment to the next. The owners walking their dogs. The runners. The airplanes taking off and landing at Billy Bishop Airport. My time spent in the Little Norway Park was perhaps more about studying the people around me than writing — being on the lookout for a new protagonist for my next story, watching how people were interacting with each other. I was ready to scoop up any fodder for my writing.

I was getting ready leave the park when I noticed a woman hanging on to her dog leash and looking frantically over the side of the quay. A gray-haired man dressed in a suit, who I had seen emerge a short time earlier from Billy Bishop Airport, was making his way over to the woman. Curiosity got the better of me, too, and I wandered over to the man and woman. The woman’s small dog had jumped from the quay into the water. The three of us were now in rescue mode.

Since I was dressed in my running shorts, sneakers and a T-shirt, I offered to climb down one of the quay’s ladder to lift the dog out of the water. I climbed down to the lowest rung (without getting into the water!) and reached for the dog with one hand. After two attempts, I managed to get my hand under his body and hold him against my thigh. Somehow I managed to lift the dog up and pass him to the man in the suit. The dog was wet but happy to be on dry land again. The owner was ecstatic that her dog was safe. After a round of handshakes, we each went on our merry ways.

Living in a large city like Toronto when it seems like everyone is rushing about, sometimes I think that we have lost our humanity. Then, during a trip to the park, circumstances brought three strangers together. There was no humming and hawing about what to do. We simply came together to do something good for someone we didn’t know. It proves, if only for today, that we have not lost our humanity. And maybe Sophocles was right: "To be doing good deeds is man's most glorious task."

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