The existence of homelessness is a symptom of society’s weakness, I said to myself as I configured the mid bandwidth frequencies emanating from the lump of poverty across the road. I wonder do I mean that in a good way?
This blokes portable radio cackled from between the arch of Rathmines Library through the cold midnight air. He lay across a mattress of cardboard, blanketed by a combat coloured sleeping bag. Behind him the traditional entrance to the building was blocked by the bars of a large cast iron gate from which he hung his noisy radio.
He was imprisoned to the outdoors, barred from the safety and warmth of the walls.
Pity is the cancer which creates these people, I informed myself while walking on the far side of the road. Their niche is the charity of others.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, this situation caused me to experience an emotion, and the nature of this particular emotional phantom was unnerving.
You see my intellectual reassurance of this homeless figures lower position in the evolutionary and social schema simply disintegrated. Something that felt like a blend between logic and intuition spoke to me:
“You’re not really better than him.”
Blasphemy! I countered.
Swiftly the voice returned: Imagine yourself stripped bare of your house, your laptop and your phone. Try to comprehend how little your social status and facebook would matter to Mother Nature if you were staked out in the jungle. When Death arrives, and it will, do you think you will really take anything to the netherworld that he has not already lost?
I know; what an arsehole. Yet the emotion was correct. Correct in the sense of disengaging me from the comfort of my illusions.
This homeless man, cradled beneath the century old stone of the library, was humanity in it’s naked truth: The cosmos is indifferent to us all equally.
This led me to a far more sinister emotion. An emotion that actually motivated me to act. An emotion that pushed me toward having a human moment.
This cosmic indifference awoke from the embers of awareness a profound conclusion: We actually have nothing, and the homeless man is the symbol of the only thing that time cannot take away from us. We are all equally outcasts on this lonely earth hanging in the dark void of infinite, uncaring space.
The emotion suggested that the noble thing to do would be to help this person out, in recognition that they are a living being: the ultimate anomaly in the countless light years of unliving inertia in all other directions of the universe.
I don’t give homeless people money though, I reminded myself. They will just spend it on drugs.
Conveniently I had a sandwich: Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. You should have seen it.
It was late as well and the stomach always reserves its most seductive pangs for the night hours.
I decided, heroically, that I would give this homeless man my sandwich. The thing that belonged to me. Then I second guessed myself, as this sandwich had been severed into two triangles.
Now this cold man was probably hungry and would be grateful even if I gave him half. This luckily leaves half for me and snuggly we are both happy.
Then, as predicted, another emotion arrived. This bastard told me that I should probably give it all to him in order to prove to myself my dominance over my urges.
I paused on my walk and looked over at my target. I looked both left and right. Of course there was no cars audible for miles, but assertiveness is a habit not a reaction.
I crossed the tarmac and entered his territory, unnoticed. I could see my foggy breath exit my lungs and flow into the air.
Hardy chaps, I said to myself. How do they survive the frost?
The radio was tuned to radio Nova. It was playing rock classics. I figured you can take everything from a person but you can’t take their songs. I thought of the black men in the Louisiana prisons in the 1940’s who were recorded singing by Alan Lomax. Society had taken everything away from them except their unownable Blues: their birthright, more yours than liberty itself.
I assumed that this impoverished fella before me found the same meaning in Led Zeppelin, Marc Bolan and The Heavy.
I rustled through my backpack which contained all my portable possessions, my home away from home. I resurrected the sandwich and wiped the tear from my heart in preparation.
“You there,” I boomed.
Now in objective reality what he actually heard was me bleating the words:
He moved his head slightly and looked at me with one eye before rolling over.
“How are ya buddy?” he said.
“Hi, Um, would you like this?” I said extending my go-go gadget hand which contained the unwrapped and exquisitely displayed sandwich. I actually think it was shining, but I can’t be sure.
He looks in my eye and then down at the breaded delicacy.
“Thanks,” he said with a Buddhist expression of tranquility: “But I don’t eat gluten.”