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Musings: What Time Is It?

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“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever…” Isak Dinesen

Musings: What Time Is It?

Recently, on the NY subway, a man turned to me and asked, “What time is it?” I looked at him, not sure if he really wanted the time or was just using an old pick up line… I guess I didn’t react fast enough because he asked the question again; this time with a touch of impatience in his voice. “Miss, what time is it?” I looked up at the digital clock, displayed in military time, on the roof of the subway car and pointing to it said, “There’s the time, 10;05am!” “Thanks! I can’t see it.” He replied. I was startled. He didn’t look blind to me and I doubt he had confused read with see. He sensed my surprise and turning to look at me, he said in a calm voice. “Yeah, I don’t have a stick but I’m legally blind alright.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond, even though the term and condition is one I am familiar with in my own family. According to notes in Wikipedia,  “In North America and most of Europe, legal blindness is defined as visual acuity (vision) of 20/200 (6/60) or less in the better eye with best correction possible. This means that a legally blind individual would have to stand 20 feet (6.1 m) from an object to see it—with corrective lenses—with the same degree of clarity as a normally sighted person could from 200 feet (61 m).”  I smiled nervously at him and he, smiling right at me, turned his attention back to his thoughts.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Musings: What Time Is It?

What struck me, in that simple exchange on the subway ride that morning, was how important it is not to make assumptions of people and situations. Even when things appear one way, the back story could be something completely different. There was a time, back in the day, when subway muggings were high. I remember when there was a rash of jewelry muggings that sometimes began with the question “What time is it?”

Over the years, especially in the Rudolf Giuliani years, tremendous effort was made to quell the problem. Nevertheless, the memory of subway muggings still linger in many minds; including mine.  So that morning, a legally blind man who could see me up close, but couldn’t see the digital clock above his head, reminded me of the importance of not judging others blindly; of not assuming things; and of the value in simply reaching out to genuinely ask or answer the question: What time is it? More below!

“Often times I have hated in self-defense; if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon.” Kahlil Gibran

Musings: What Time Is It?

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t
own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep
it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it
you can never get it back.” Harvey MacKay

The exchange I had with the man on the subway was an eye-opener of sorts for me, (yes, pun intended), because it reminded me that it was time to discard that old subway mugging tape still on pause in my head. How often do we go about concluding outcomes based on past exchanges or expectations? Sure, sometimes our concerns are warranted, but in many case they are not. What time is it?

Stay Inspired! What are your thoughts? What’s surprising event have you had lately? How do you assess situations? What do you do when things seem a bit unsure? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

*Please bear with me as I continue to catch up on your blogs and commenting… Thank you all for your patience! 🙂

Positive Motivation Tip: Life is not so linear or black and white; sometimes there are other shapes and shades to consider. Ask the questions.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All photos braille watch, sense of touch, blind lady, via Wikipedia and/or via Flickr

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

37 Comments leave one →
  1. 21/06/2012 3:07 am

    That subway experience and the way you unfold it is fantastic!

    • 21/06/2012 3:49 pm

      TY JmG! It was a great lesson for me too. 😉

  2. 21/06/2012 3:34 am

    Reblogged this on OyiaBrown.

  3. 21/06/2012 4:09 am

    I have a dear friend sho is legally blind from macular degeneration that began in her childhood. She can get around and function normally in familiar environments and sometimes even those of us closest to her forget that she can’t see especially if we’re somewhere and the sun starts to go down. We do have to remember that there are many types of handicaps, some not so noticable. And even those that are noticable may not be what they seem. My niece is an intelligent college grad but due to childhood cancer and treatments is wheelchair bound, suffers from facial palsey and her speech is somewhat difficult to understand at times. Too many strangers speak to her and treat her as if she mentally incompetent, which she is most certainly not.
    Great post, Eliz.

    • 21/06/2012 3:52 pm

      “We do have to remember that there are many types of handicaps, some not so noticeable.” Your point here is correct. We must not forget that disabilities come in many forms and compassion, not judgment, is needed. TY for the visit. 🙂

  4. 21/06/2012 4:31 am

    What you say is so true – we are at times too hasty in our judgements of others. We see an overweight person and immediately think the cause is overeating; we see a badly behaved child and criticise the parent. We never think that there may be a reason for a behaviour – or even that a person may just be having a bad day.

    • 21/06/2012 3:53 pm

      Exactly … and we are all guilty of this and need to stop and take a deep bretah before lashing out or using other passive aggressive tactics. Thanks again for your comment.:-)

  5. 21/06/2012 6:32 am

    So true Elizabeth. Our conditioning makes us judgemental and it takes effort to not jump to conclusions.Thanks again for a thought provoking post.

    • 21/06/2012 3:55 pm

      Thank you for your comment and, you’re right, it does take effort to withhold judgment.

  6. 21/06/2012 6:40 am

    This is a huge lesson compacted into skillful precision! Well done! It is in a small moment that we (all of us, by human nature) make unsupported judgments about others. If we don’t go back and think them through -as you have, in fact, done here – snap judgments can escalate, become rout, and lay an ugly foundation for intolerance.

    Some disabilities are called invisible but they are there. When you see a crying child or a seemingly healthy adult using disabled parking, don’t auto-pilot to judgment of the parent or the seemingly healthy person. There is – most likely- more going on than meets the eye! (does that count as a pun? 😉 )

    • 21/06/2012 4:21 pm

      Karen, Thanks for your feedback and as you said, “There is – most likely- more going on than meets the eye!” There is more, and we cans stay open to it. 🙂

  7. 21/06/2012 8:27 am

    Wow, honestly, I’m trying to stop making assumptions myself. Someone brought this to my attention last year and I didn’t realize how bad a habit I have at taking a little bit and trying to piece the rest of the story together without asking for more details. This is a great reminder of the importance of forgiving and forgetting also. We can’t judge everyone by the poor actions of others. Btw…I’m legally blind at night and MUST wear corrective lenses when driving. Most people don’t know by just looking at me. So I totally sympathize with the man.

    • 21/06/2012 8:50 am

      Thank you and glad to see you here again. I need corrective lens too but not legally blind… but some in my family are and we can’t tell about others by just looking. I was glad for the exchange. Blessings! 🙂

  8. 21/06/2012 9:05 am

    I love this post…I was a subway rider for years and remember those fears of being mugged…but we can be so blinded by fear that we miss helping someone who is actually in need….city life and awareness of our surroundings takes a toll on our sensitivities. I would have done exactly the same thing that you did.

    • 21/06/2012 9:18 am

      Thank you Loretta and we share that story from back in the heavy mugging days. You are right, it is so important to hear the other person and not let fear take over. Please don’t forget to let me know about the pass code problem getting fixed… Love your new blog. TY! 🙂

  9. Bree permalink
    21/06/2012 10:13 am

    This is a much needed post for all to see and check themselves. We humans are always second guessing each other that we act rashly without all the facts in place. I’m glad you wrote this and I hope others, and your blog groups read it. Be strong and have a lifted day!

  10. 21/06/2012 1:19 pm

    This is so true on rash judgement. It’s so easy to do with all the preconceived situations we keep in our heads–like trying to avoid all cost the street people because you think they will stab you or something. It should be that we reach out and help because that’s the goodness in a human being rather than fear the unknown and run away from helping.
    Great post.
    Hey, let me know if it’s easier now loading over at my site…i tried a few different things i hope will lighten the load time. Thanks again! 🙂

    • 21/06/2012 4:37 pm

      Yes, you nailed it that those judgments are rash and unfounded. Precaution is a good thing but we don’t have to jump to conclusions so often. TY! Will go back and check. 🙂

  11. 21/06/2012 2:18 pm

    If he was legally blind, why didn’t he have a watch on, or look at his cell phone to see the time.

    • 21/06/2012 4:25 pm

      Good question Connie and I didn’t see one. There are people who don’t wear them or carry one. Why he had neither on that day? I don’t know… What do you think? TY! 🙂

  12. 21/06/2012 2:26 pm

    Thanks for the reminder to not jump to hasty conclusions as we are projecting our own perceptions then! Rather listen openly….

    • 21/06/2012 3:14 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I needed the reminder too. I agree that listening is key to clarity

  13. 21/06/2012 5:00 pm

    The story you told was very well put, and significant. I have had the same experience with strangers. Assuming…

  14. 22/06/2012 9:21 am

    As usual, so inspirational. I’ve learnt my lessons, Elizabeth.

  15. 22/06/2012 8:39 pm

    What time is it? Time to never miss one of your posts, Eliz…they are precious and priceless! Thank you…I loved this one and many of the quotes really spoke to me. 🙂

  16. 23/06/2012 12:20 pm

    This is a really thought-provoking post, Elizabeth. Thank you for telling an important story.

  17. 24/06/2012 1:55 am

    This is a really interesting topic, Elizabeth. I feel that the most important lesson that my mum has ever taught me is to always trust my instinct. Too often we go against our instincts for fear of appearing rude or causing offence to strangers and this is often what criminals play on, and therefore what ultimately gets us into trouble. Rather be red (faced) than dead.

  18. 24/06/2012 4:01 am

    Brilliantly written. This ia absolutely spot on. We are often quick to judge, form an opinion and disparage or discount something or someone on first impression or surface appearance, and can be simply miles off. We need to develop a kindness and gentleness in attitude that, unfortunately, is all too often completely at odds with our world. But still, we need to be malleable and open and interested.

  19. 25/06/2012 4:56 pm

    Nice theme today. I am working on being non-judgemental. Someone always has a back story and things are not as they appear.

  20. 27/06/2012 8:49 pm

    I love the motivation tip.

  21. 08/07/2012 7:39 pm

    Sadly, another Russel Ray camping trip comes to an end………………..

  22. 30/12/2012 12:10 am

    A great post. I always enjoy a post which is inspired from a moment in someone’s day. Like you, it can often get me thinking, thinking, thinking.

    I loved the quote breaking up your post too – love Kahlil Gibran’s works.

    Cheers 🙂


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