Wednesday, April 11, 2007

street of dreams.

For some reason I can’t connect to the ‘NET at GCT, so I’ll write this in Word. It lacks the sense of “connectedness” – I am not sure if that is a pun or not – but that sense is virtual anyway. It probably is a neurological sort of response, similar to what a person who smokes might feel when holding a cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other.

I guess I’m saying that internet “addiction” can be two-way. And frighteningly subtle.

But in this case, as I’m writing off line, it can be said to be a more rational process. We’ll see if it turns out that way.

What compelled me to write at this moment is something I encountered along Wall St. while leaving work this afternoon. Something simple…and simplicity itself will be the subject of another post, with some thoughts on that venerable topic I cased out this morning.

But on Wall, after work... an unusual beggar. This man honestly did not look well. And he was calling out, “Can someone help me feed my daughter?”

Sure, it could all have been an act. But even if it was, and I don’t think it was, it was a desperate act. And if it wasn’t an act, it was all the more desperate an action.

I approached the man. He really did not look well. He looked…desperate. Strung by green household wire about his neck was a cardboard sign, every square inch of which scrawled upon in pen with small letters; what must have been a very long story. As he noticed me approaching, he swiveled his body in such a way as to make sure the sign hung as intended. The only word out of the whole long story that registered with me was “AIDS.”

I don’t know what the substance of that story is. But I felt something – literally – in my heart as I faced that man. I don’t know what I felt. A palpitation, some sort of visceral reaction. It wasn’t pain. It was more of a thump. As if to say…”pay attention?” A marker? Maybe he was praying for me, and maybe God answered him on the spot.

He thanked me profusely for the token of change I put in his cup. I didn’t have very much to begin with, unfortunately. I did not give enough, and I may never have that opportunity again. I don't think I've quite processed that. Maybe that thump to my heart was a kick in the seat by God.

A block away, there was a display of very exotic cars in front of the most exotic residence in the area – Cipriani. (It will be noted that Wall Street is now largely a residential street, and that I don’t think that’s a good sign for business, but that is a very different post).

Collectively the three cars might have been valued with seven figures. I couldn’t help but notice the eager, mostly male faces – male faces accompanied by pretty female ones – about the display. If I could read the faces, I think I’d say they were telling stories of bravado, of greed, of insecurity, of power-lust. I’m not saying that’s all there was to see in the faces, but only that, on the face or two that I noticed, I might have noticed that.

The cars were pretty, and for anyone interested in cars or even in gadgets, they held an understandable fascination. In their own way, they were beautiful. Does beholding beauty or power make avarice show up on a man’s face, necessarily? I don’t think so. But Wall Street is no ordinary street.

Well, that notwithstanding, what I wanted to get across in this post is that there were not crowds of admiring or avaricious faces surrounding the beggar a block and a half away. There were no beautiful women floating around him. He wasn’t anyone’s destination or dream.


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