Empathy and consideration for the life of another person is hard to keep in possession. The daily pull into myself and the world-of-my-life can only be balanced by a daily encounter with another human face.
And so this morning when I stopped to talk I made myself conscious of the accumulation of your joys and sorrows that were soft-sculpted into your face. I saw both the nuances and the patencies of your history. All those experiences etched in.
You were half a block away. When I crossed the street and stepped up on the curb I saw the inevitability of your approach. You walked toward me, your self-consciousness a forgotten thing, and one of the reasons you looked out of joint with time and place.
Your face, that unfinished painting through which you look at me and the world, revealed some dark passages. I often mask my own face–and we all have our veneers–but yours was far more vulnerable. Yours, a far thinner veneer.
Your story, the details of which are all unique and varied, beg some tragic questions. Asked, you told me how they look to you now. You drifted here from a northern reserve, a reserve you say is dying, hopeless. You said there was nothing for you there…but I understood that this was not nothing in the way I told my friends a half-generation ago when I left my own town, saying, “there is nothing for me here.” Your nothing is on a scale I can’t grasp.
Your drama, your paths, have to do with deep and complex breakage’s. I offer you so little, except a bit of time and spare change; you awaken a piece of humanity within me.
You know, of course, why you’re resented by many. And sometimes by me. You arouse emotions within me that I would sooner put aside. You are a constant reminder of a reality I want to forget. I don’t like being forced to notice the base poverty of my response to you. And so I ultimately blame you for my lack of compassion for you.