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What Stands Between Us

“Here, take my water,” the leather-skinned street dweller said to the officer, who graciously accepted the offering, quickly quenched his thirst and, with a look of gratitude for the stranger, headed back into the ravaged area where a 5-story apartment complex had been reduced to rubble.

I wouldn’t have found this scene so miraculous had I not witnessed this same weathered homeless man curse the cops and rant on several occasions about how they were out to get him. So what happened? What changed inside this grimy guy to transform him from a rabid, street prophet proclaiming the end of civilization at the hands of the men in black…to a selfless servant willing to share his only sustenance with his mortal enemy?

Was it the sight of the neighborhood, once a bustling center of family activity, now more resembling a war zone? Was it the sight of people who usually raced past him, without so much as a glance, now sitting on the curbs, heads in their hands, their lives utterly uprooted from their moorings – some of them even homeless themselves now?

A disaster shakes us up, shakes us out of our intoxicated slumber. It strips away the backdrop to our daily drama and shows us where we’re really living and the role we’ve been playing. When acquiring the basic necessities of life suddenly become all we’re living for, we realize just how fragile life is, how vulnerable we are, how the whole thing can crumble – in the blink of an eye -- back into the dust from whence it came.

But what is it that happens in the hearts of those who endure these tragedies that instantly strips away the borders between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and makes it – if only for a fleeting moment – ‘us’ and ‘we’? What is the alchemy that collapses the experience of ‘otherness’ and makes us feel intrinsically connected – so connected that we would actually risk or sacrifice our own life for a complete stranger? Do we go temporarily insane in these moments, or are they actually blinding flashes of sanity? Are these trauma-induced delusions causing us to act out of character, or glimpses of the-way-things-really-are?

Besides our own self-reflection, the only way we can truly begin to understand these inner transformations is by sharing them. Not just during the disaster. And not just for a few days or weeks after. We must continue to tell our stories, for as long as it takes, until we find the wisdom in the words that not only helps us survive…but even thrive.

Maybe if we can keep the connection going – the connection to each other, to our own hearts – it won’t take tragedy to bring us together and inspire us to offer a helping hand – or a drink of water – to someone in need.

“As a screenwriter, author, journalist, and consultant, Derek Rydall has sold, optioned, or been hired on assignment for over 20 film and TV projects, written several books, articles, infomercials, commercials, and other marketing materials. He has been a staff writer for Fox and Disney, Deepak Chopra, a writer/consultant for fortune 500 companies, and various other professionals – helping people from around the world take their projects to the next level! His latest book, I Could've Written a Better Movie than That!: How to Make Six Figures as a Script Consultant-- Even if You're Not a Screenwriter, is due out November.

Contact: www.scriptwritercentral.com
(661) 296-4991.”

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