It was the last weekend in April. I was traveling to Orange,Connecticut but had to take a connecting flight in one of the cities in Southeastern US. As I mulled over what to get for lunch during this intermission in my journey, pandemonium ensued in the concourse I found myself. One thing we can all agree on is that the airport is not a place you want to be under any chaotic breakout. This one was different. I did not hear the visceral shriek of “God is Great” in Arabic or the presence of armed Homeland Security personnel ready to blast away. As this bedlam drew closer to my boarding gate, I heard laughter and long-winded snickering like I had never heard before. Then came camera flashes from every nook and cranny of this concourse. Then I saw what the ruckus was about. It was a middle-aged lady – completely naked – being escorted (at least that seemed to be the attempt). It was such a confusing sight on so many levels. Her escorts (flight attendants, security and medical personnel) tried to provide her with clothing but she swathed them off. From the looks of her “bare essentials” she was not your garden variety “nutter” (just could not find another word). Her physiology showed one that was adroitly groomed – like one from a middle or upper class grouping.
In my professional opinion, I suspect she may have suffered an episodic psychotic breakdown of sorts. Then it dawned on me – like a script from the twilight zone. The entire concourse broke out in deep hilarity. It became such a spectacle that hordes of passengers continued to follow this lady and her escorts as though the carnival was in town. I even saw people becoming “fast friends” as they exchanged numbers so as to have a library of the best photo shots. It was now a race to who could upload this ignominious experience on Youtube the fastest. Even 30 minutes after this ruckus, my line of sight and earshot was still maddeningly disquiet.
As I sat waiting for my flight (which was delayed for another hour), I was overcome with a deep sense of sadness over this episode. In fact, I went to the nearest information desk to inquire about the plight of this lady. I was shut down and told to leave the area by the lady in charge. 20 minutes later this same lady came looking for me – to apologize. She asked if I was a journalist or blogger. I told her I was neither. I was just concerned about her well-being. She looked at me as though I had “two heads”. That made her cry – as it seemed she had held in the confusion from this day within. She said everyone who had come to her desk seemed interested only in where they had taken this lady so as to catch their own “glamor shot”. Then she startled me with her next request/question. She asked if I believed in prayer. Of course I said I did. Right there, in full view of most, we both said a quick prayer for this lady – even though we knew very little about her.
I went on to Orange,Connecticut where I had a very difficult and painful weekend. One that continues to reverberate within the armor of my heart.
On the last leg of my trip back home, I could not believe that I had not even thought about this lady while I was in CT. I had been distracted. I lost the plot because of my own “stuff”. I decided to write a letter to her (whom I referred to as Jane(T) Doe(Ring) or JD for short. I told her to forgive me for not thinking and praying for her during my difficult weekend. I told her to stay the course no matter how difficult her “condition” was. I pleaded with her not to become disillusioned with humanity as they scorned, mocked, and reduced her to physiological metrics – not caring that she was in emotional and mental anguish and turmoil.
I continue to believe that we are becoming a deeply “soulless” world. In a 24-hour world of endless news cycle and social media, there is a visceral sense of desensitization assaulted on our humanity. This experience, for me, was not a denial or minimization of tough experiences that I will have all through the course of my life but a revivification of the fact that there are so many others that need our love. That need a helping hand. Or just our prayers. We may not be able to undo the disturbing banalities in Manchester or all over the Middle East. But how about just our communities? Or neighborhoods? Everyday, I pray the song of Brandon Heath,
“Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach?
Give me Your heart for the one’s forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see”
There are just too many people that need our love. Our care. Our resources. Just a hug. They are our neighbors. Our friends. Our colleagues. I’ll carry JD everywhere I go as a reminder that the world should still have a “soul”. A “pulse”. And it starts with me.
Licensed Psychotherapist Obuko Uwanogho is the President/CEO of Totus Counseling Group (TCG). A provider of psychotherapeutic milieu to an ever-expanding client base in the heart of Houston, Texas. Focus is on sufferers of depression, mental disorders, and addictions.