If you haven’t heard, San Francisco is a little hilly. If you have Cerebral Palsy, walking up and down these hills can be a little…um…tricky.

Patrick, a.k.a. Tippy-Toes has Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of body movement.” But more than that Patrick has Cerebral Palsy in San Francisco.

I met Patrick as I was walking to the gym one day. He has only lived in SF for a couple of months, and is sleeping on his mother’s floor and taking odd jobs as they become available. The day I met him he had just been dropped off by the public bus, and was returning from a day of sorting papers and stuffing envelopes as menial paid labor.

Walking with CP is an arduous task. The tips of Patrick’s shoes are worn away quickly. He goes through shoes faster than he can earn money to supply them. When I saw him, he was leaning on a car and had asked other people waiting at the bus stop to help him up the hill. No one helped. All were too busy, were afraid, were to frail to help, or perhaps had too many other “important” things to do. So there he sat waiting. I don’t know how long. But, I assume this is a daily event.

As I passed I asked if he was OK? He asked me to help him the two blocks up the hill (a steep one), to which I replied yes. He grabbed my arm with the strength of a man constantly trying to effect and affect his errant muscles and limbs to mind and submit to his will. I had a good friend in high school named Justin who had CP, and he, like Patrick, was one of the most in-shape athletes I’ve ever known. Not a trace of fat and intensely strong.

He said to me, “I can run like the wind, but I just can’t walk. Just don’t let me fall.” I never thought about that. People with CP don’t have the ability to “catch” their fall like those of us without CP can. As such, he takes the brunt of every fall…often with painful consequences.

As we walked I said, “Lucky for you, you have this gift.”

“This ain’t no G-I-F-T!!!” he raised his voice at me.

I understood what he meant, and didn’t belabor the point, but I disagreed with him. I’ve never lived with CP; perhaps my ideas would change if I had. But I consider all the difficult things in life as gifts—tests. The universe gives you cards to play. What will you make of what you have been dealt?

Patrick related to me that although he had been here in SF a short time, his primary mode of transportation had been stolen: A three wheeled bicycle. As luck would have it, I have a friend who owns one, and it is brand new. I asked her husband how much he wanted for it? $150

Friends in my path have tried to help me in my peace pilgrimage, as such, they have given me money. I have $60. Now I need just $90 more.

Yesterday, while running, three painter/carpenters (Aaron, Peter, and Martin) commented on my tunic. I turned to talk to them, and discovered them to be such wonderful and peaceful-hearted men. After talking at some length about the concepts and applications of peaceful living, they asked if they could help me. I began telling them no, then it occurred to me, perhaps they would like to help with the bicycle? I told them about Tippy-Toes.

Pete and Martin were kind enough to extend $20 a peace (sic) to the cause. Another friend was kind enough to return an item they didn’t need, and offered the $35 refund to the cause. $15 more and a lock and I will be able to give the bike to Patrick.

This is what I am talking about. If all of us just do a little. Together we can change the world…and make the life of a man with CP in SF just a little easier. Perhaps even show him the love of strangers. And just perhaps, convince ourselves that people are good. My experiences have been just that. People are good, people are kind, when given the chance—people will choose love.

Love, Art, & Peace to All.

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