Friday, March 5, 2010

Homeless Story of J, Part II

This is the fictional testimony of a hypothetical homeless person named J, who could be you or me.

I perch on the lip of the gutter, as if it were an anaconda of scum about to attack, and the world seems grotesquely unfair.

The car people, robotic and bored, get to live for many more stressed-out decades, and yet I am going to die soon, I who feels fully alive and free. Part of me wants to embrace my new motto--There Are Worse Fates Than Death--and part of me is just sad and sick and crying. I could go to the shelter and get a cot but I’d be among the snore noises and fart smells of ugly people I don’t know, many of them mentally destroyed. I’d have to chant prayers at night to earn my beans and chant again in the morning to beg my cornflakes.

What is the price of nonconformity? Loneliness. Destitution. And that horrible question that comes over and over like a nightmare whenever I doze or let my mind wander: Can there be meaning in a struggle that will never perceived except by the one who struggles?

Would Beethoven’s 9th Symphony mean anything if it sat forever, unread, at the bottom of the sea?

Surrounded by people, I am the Hermit. Aimlessly walking, I am the Hanged Man. I pay dearly for the prophet aura of my dirty clothes. I wear an invisible pillory of social condemnation that has reduced my existence to shame or nothing, whichever hurts more.

My mind is keen, now that I’ve been let go--from my job and then my country. I stood on my backpack this morning and shouted out to the scurrying workers rushing by: “Busyness is the enemy of hard work!”

Some of them even laughed. One guy applauded. And there were a few dollars.

Burger time at McD’s. Ever been in line for the take-out window without a car?



  1. Somehow this energy resonates with me. It captures a lot of perspective when I look at the bustle and callousness of people squandering their lives away. Choosing an ant-like existence over, say, a dolphin-like one!