"Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love." - Rainer Maria Rilke
I was in Tokyo last spring, walking beneath neon signs and cherry blossoms with my dear friend Kirsten. Right about the time the sun was setting, we heard the sound of a jazz band coming from an alley. Turns out it was a group of four very hip Japanese college students playing their hearts out for anyone who would listen.
But not everyone was enjoying the music. In the middle of the second song, an older homeless man broke through the crowd and started yelling at the band. The musicians did their best to ignore him but the apparently intoxicated man would not go away. It seemed he was angry about the loud noise.
There were probably two dozen of us watching this unfold - none of us knowing what we could or should do. I remember feeling very helpless, because first, I don't speak much Japanese, and second, the homeless man was starting to get more and more violent. At one point, he picked up a stick and started banging on the drum set.
This was more than the young drummer could take and he finally stopped playing, stood up and pushed the old man to the ground.
It was then that a young Japanese man made his way through the crowd very quietly. He knelt down next to the old man, took hold of his hand and asked him if he was alright. I couldn't understand what was being said, but I'll never forget the way this young man helped bring the fallen man to his feet. And I'll never forget the way he carefully placed his arm around the old man's shoulders and quietly walked him away.
After reading the above quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, I can't help but wonder. Maybe this old man was a prince in disguise. And maybe he was waiting to see someone act, just once, with beauty and courage.
by Ron Atchison