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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “An epiphany, of sorts”

    Joyanna Jonescolumnist
    Joyanna Jones
    columnist

    Last Wednesday, I had an epiphany. Sort of. It was one of those chance encounters – a quirk of the universe, if you will – that for a moment changes your view of yourself and your place in the world.

    It was nearly midnight, and I had gone to Kinko’s to print a special map for a paper that I had been working on all day. I was tired and cranky and ready to be in bed asleep.

    On a whim I had a craving for the baklava at Epic Cafe on Fourth Avenue. If you have never tried it, you are missing out.

    After I had gotten my food and a drink, I was trying to carry everything and unlock my car at the same time. All I wanted was to get home, eat my midnight snack and sleep.

    While my back was turned, a homeless man on a bicycle approached me and asked if he could wash my windshield for a few quarters so that he could get some food, because he was hungry.

    When I turned around, I saw an older black man with a salt and pepper beard and kind eyes. Despite being a young, white female alone on Fourth Avenue late at night, I felt I couldn’t say no to someone who was hungry.

    I agreed to let him wash my windshield. He took a plastic bag from his bike, pulled out a damp sponge and began to wipe down my window.

    Sitting uncomfortably in my car, I was trying to figure out if I should watch him work or look elsewhere.

    Imagine my surprise when I looked up at my windshield and saw my face being swished back and forth across to dry the window! The man had used a free copy of the Arizona Daily Wildcat as a towel to clean my window and make some money.

    My jaw hit the floor of my car. What were the chances of me meeting this guy, let alone having him wash my windshield with my column?

    In that moment, I realized that the paper my words were printed on was far more valuable to this man as a tool to earn food than anything I had written.

    I realized how easy it is to get so wrapped up in yourself that you forget the people and the world around you.

    College is a very self-centered time, and for good reason. For the first time in your life you are relatively free.

    You choose your major, your courses, where you are going to live, how you are going to pay for school and rent, whether you need to work. You can choose to do your homework or go out or sleep, because you are the only one affected. Really, it’s all about you.

    Except that it’s not. If you live your whole life only caring about yourself, when you are no longer around, no one is going to remember or care, because you didn’t care for anyone else.

    Sure, it’s a little morbid for a college student to be contemplating what their legacy is going to be and what their place in the world is, but it’s never too early to think about how your life could influence someone else’s in a positive way.

    Try to do something that isn’t about you. And don’t do it just to make you feel good, because that defeats the purpose.

    Get out of your comfort zone. College life can be a bubble, separating and distorting perceptions of the world. Pick a cause and become active.

    If you care about children being left behind by the education system, tutor at an at-risk school. If you are worried about global warming, write letters to politicians and cut back on your own carbon emissions. If you miss your grandparents, volunteer at a nursing home, because chances are, the residents are missing someone as well and would like company.

    What matters is making yourself sensitive to others around you and being aware that there are people everywhere with needs that are different than your own.

    In this chance encounter with a homeless man, I was reminded that in the grand scheme of things, the decisions that I make for myself, that affect only me, are not nearly as important as decisions that affect those around me, people I may not even know.

    I do not know what this man’s name was, but I do know that I will never forget him. For a brief period in time, his life influenced mine and caused me to re-evaluate the decisions I was making.

    Joyanna Jones is a journalism senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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