Life... they say it's what you make of it. But, is it really? Don't bad things happen to good people? Are we really in control of our fate? Or, are some of us just luckier than others?
I spent half of the day yesterday visiting a few covered bridges in northern Alabama. It was pouring down rain and I wasn't even sure I would be able to get any photo's, but after being in the car for a couple of hours I wasn't about to turn back. If anything, I'm determined!
I had just arrived at my third stop of the day; a covered bridge in Oneonta Alabama. It was raining so hard you could barely see out the car window, and there was no where to park. This covered bridge is no longer operational, and it was pretty much like coming to a dead end country road. No where to park, no where to turn around, no where to go.
As I sat there I looked out the drivers side window and thought I saw a body lying in the middle of the bridge. My husband, who was driving the car, kept trying to see what I was seeing, but he was positive I was mistaken. He exited the car, came around to my side with an umbrella, and with camera in hand, we walked towards the covered bridge. We immediately realized that there, indeed, was a body lying across the middle of the bridge. My husband thought we should leave, but I knew I couldn't just walk away not knowing if this person was dead or alive. So, as quietly and as slowly as I could move, I made my way towards the lifeless body.
As I approached the gentleman lying on that bridge I stopped and held my sight on his back. I waited to see it rise as he breathed, but he was as still as a rock. I then moved my eyes toward his shoulders; no rise there either. I was quickly becoming panicked. I realized that I would have to walk past him and view him from the other side. I was worried that I would find his face missing; what if he was dead? What if he had been here for days? What if he had been shot?
Once again my husband suggested we just leave, but I wasn't willing to do that. He did however remind me that if we startle this person he may have a gun and begin shooting. I was a nervous wreck, but slowly eased past the body lying still.
Once we were past him we turned to see the condition of his body. I felt relieved. He appeared fine. Dead still, but fine. His eyes were closed and although he still didn't appear to be breathing, he seemed peaceful.
I went about my business, photographing my third covered bridge of the day and when I turned back towards the car I saw flashing red lights. Two rescue workers began walking in our direction. Without saying a word to us they approached the lifeless body lying on the bridge. I'm not sure why, but instead of continuing my walk toward the car I stopped dead in my tracks and begin photographing the rescue workers as well as the gentleman lying there. I sighed a breath of relief as the resuce workers shook the man and he awoke. He seemed confused and perhaps irritated that they woke him from his sleep, but he was alive, and I turned back to leave.
As my husband maneuvered the car away from the bridge I silently wondered what happened to bring that man to the bridge. Was it bad luck? Life circumstances? Did he recently lose everything, as so many Americans have over the course of the past year? Or, did he end up sleeping on that bridge because of decisions that he made? Alcohol? Drugs? I'll never know what brought him there, but I do know that this is a common sight across the United States. What I don't know, and what I don't understand is, why do the rest of us see another human being at their lowest moment, and somehow view them as less than human? Don't we all deserve the same amount of respect?