Saturday, 31 May 2008
9 - Poignant Acts of Hypocrisy on Behalf of The Universe
I know its been a bit odd trying to keep track of me this year and believe me I’m having just as much of a hard time doing so.
So tonight, in the throes of (not) making a decision about whether to make an impulsive transcontinental shift at the behest of a friend, I had one of those good old self-generated moments of inspirational randomness.
So, the scene, Part 1…
I’m in Los Angeles. Have been for 9 days… Due to stay here for another 9… I’ve been kind of housebound. A bit because of work, a bit more because I tweaked my back a little so no yoga for a few days, another bit more because I kind of like the house I rented, its got a good garden. Filled with birds a-twittering, bullying and flirting with each other as its mating season. And it’s pretty hot so I’ve been lazing (er… working) on the lawn while topping up the tan. But I’ve also been being a bit serious and you know what… a bit bored. Often I think that I need to get a bit bored before I sit down and do some writing so I was sort of hoping that this would start to happen now. And I’d be interested to hear what you think really drives me to scribe these missives! And what stands in the way of me doing more with it. And by THAT i mean really set down the Mountain and Valley Theory.
So… back to the point… a bit bored in LA and also a bit darn down about the state of my heart’s desires. Minimal friends around so I am feeling a bit lonely. And perhaps in a moment of escapist weakness, my dear friend Warwick caught my sensible self a-napping. And while I was suggesting he come to LA he suggested I go to New York… a seed well sown in the fertile bed of my head. Well why not!
2 things possibly. 1) It will cost me more money to do that! A factor a bit important to someone who is not really doing a lot of paid work at present is also touring every continent he can lay a flight onto with trips to South Africa, Mongolia, China, London and back to LA next up. 2) Am I just running from the very place and moment I am in when I might begin to write those things I do really want to write and I kinda do like LA? Hmm… But getting to spend time with Warwick and Patricia in NYC is a very cool option at any moment. Plus the Brian with Spaleytrax Prototype is in town… and why can I not write there? Too many distractions? Perhaps… but where too is the legendary discipline? Oh yes that was in the bathwater with the baby… oops.
Also one of the things in terms of making it worth doing might be to depart as soon as 7am Sunday morning. Now to achieve THAT I need to organise quite a few things round here. It’s a wee bit of a mess.
It is in my nature to try to do everything! Another pattern of mine is to keep my options open. So part of what I need to do tomorrow/Saturday is to stick things in crates and store them at Warwick’s place in LA. And checking on the interneti-spaghetti I find the Bed, Bath and Beyond Home Store in the Beverley Centre Shopping Megalith is still open, so if I rush I can get the crate and be better prepared for tomorrow if I choose to go.
I pile into my small SUV rental and drive on over… counting my money in my head and counting the cost of this alternative expedition to New York. Offsetting less car rental with more airfares and so on. I am concluding that it is about $600... then the position I am in strikes me – blowing $600 on a few days of my life! Let’s say 8 at the most. I find something about this quite sickening.
I’m slowly approaching a red traffic light in the darkening gloom of dusk and ahead of me I see an elderly gentlemen in the road, bent over his cane, closer to cripple and judging by it, homeless to boot. Begging with a paper cup at the corner of Paradise long since paved over with a Parking Lot. He’s 2 lanes into the road and is trying to make it back to shore before the steel tide surges over him at the first glimpse of green. His fragile head is but a foot or so from the cars in front of him…
$600 for my 8 days.
I shift uncomfortably and continue my slow cruise past him, now precariously beached on the pavement edge.
I turn into the Beverley Centre Parking Lot… I feel on one hand that my decision about New York is not about the money. But if I have that kind of cash why not do something more sensible with it? At this stage I already know I am going to go and talk to that man. It’s just what else am I going to do. And in what order will I approach this event. You see Bed Bath and Beyond might close before I get back and then I will not have got my crate and then my options would be more limited. So you see, there are factors present to my mind that is not keeping up with my soul’s compassion.
I put my mission first. I park - I have no choice about THAT. To get back out to him I have to go through the very store I need to be in to make my purchase. I go into the store. The security guard, a young lady greets me in that fabulous American friendly fashion, not wanting anything, just wishing me well. Once inside I am perfectly efficient, I disregard all the unnecessary things I am normally drawn to. Jugs, bowls, and breadboards – I love a breadboard. I ask the first assistant I see where I can buy the crate and do simply and only that. Well, also exchanging some friendly banter with another shopper. I like that about this country. It did not slow me down though. I’m thinking of what I will give this man when I meet him. What questions I might ask him and what possible outcomes there may be - his gratitude, surprise, possible madness or drunkenness. Him saying “God bless you” me saying, “There’s no need for THAT”. My decision is that I will give him all the cash I have on me. This amounts to $70.02 after I have paid cash for the crate. I think about keeping 2 dollars to have as tips for someone else but I do like the idea of giving him everything I have on me.
On my way out, the same security guard says goodbye in her cheerful way. I talk to her regarding when they are closing. The lift to where my car is, is inside the store so she tells me of another way to get back to my car if the shop is closed. I return to my car and drop the crate off. I wonder about whether or not I should drive out instead of walk out… I try to have a look for him from the parking lot 2 floors up but I am on the wrong side of the building. Back down I go. I am in a fine mood. I am probably going to New York and I am off-setting my richness ‘issue’ with a constructed encounter I expect will enhance my life and be an unusually good thing for this homeless guy. I am confident ready for this meeting of worlds.
Passing the security guard again… we exchange more friendly words. This time I ask her name “ Melissa”. I give her mine. We are both big smiles and cheer. I say “Melissa, please look at me now.” Takes a step back, arms open, palms up. “I would like you to observe me now and if I come back through here, tell what is different about me then. Because I am going out there and either something is or is not going to happen.“
“Ok” she beams.
And off I go… I think I bet she’s thinking I’m going to propose to someone or something. I now decide that I will keep $5 back from my man but ask him if he is ok with that as I wish to give it to someone else (perhaps Melissa). See what take he has on allowing another person to benefit from a random gift too. I’m also disappointed to find that I do not have any of my friend Jason’s “Licenses 2 Live” with me as I could also give him a couple of those and suggest he give them to someone he receives some money from in the future thereby enhancing that exchange and allowing the Licenses to be distributed in another and more poignant fashion unbeknown to us involved in that project.
Out of the parking lot and into the night I go. Straight to the corner where I saw him.
Where he was.
He is not there.
Well that’s ok.
Disappointing but ok.
But I will have a bit of a look around. So I start up the street – trying to think… where would a crippled homeless guy go? Which way would he walk? Along the busy road or a darker side street? I recognise this is a little hopeless but I say to myself – just trust your intuition. So eagerly I go up one street. North. A block. Nothing. Backtrack and walk west… I pass a very large hotel with several doormen outside. I stop to talk to them and ask if they saw an elderly homeless guy go this way. I’m talking to 2 of them really. One sort of implies yes but wants to know what happened and what the matter is. I quickly reassure that nothing is wrong and that I just need to talk to him and its all good. He’s now claiming he doesn’t know. I get slightly irritated – saying that I want to give the old guy something but this guy is just saying, “I can’t say”. I have the feeling that this is the moment I am meant to bribe/tip him. I do not but remind myself that I should not let this irritate me because this fellow has done nothing wrong and is just the person I chose to talk to in this quest. To him, I am nothing but potential trouble. So is he not going to do or say anything else. Grrr.
I carry on in that direction another block. Nothing. I pass a couple of banks and think about drawing more money. Why not?
I don’t, I get distracted looking around and thinking. My energy is draining away. I am resigned to returning back the way I came. Passing the hotel. I check the irritation in and leave that behind forever. I’m back where I started, on the corner I first saw the guy at. No sign. I’m feeling flat about it.
I cross the street and head down another block, east – there are a couple of other homeless guys there. Much younger and a bit sketchy looking. Suddenly I don’t really feel safe. I know I am. There are loads of people around and these guys are not even vaguely paying me any attention. Why should they? They’re very used to having no attention paid to them. A little further along there is another shivering lump with large unkempt hair trying to sleep underneath a filthy sleeping bag. Some coke cups, bottles and open books of matches are near him/her. To what purpose i do not know. I do not have the same feeling at all regarding these less fortunate folk. I think about giving them the money. Talking to them and satisfying my ‘encounter’ needs with or on (?) them. I don’t. I just walk back to where I came from.
I’m definitely feeling flatter now. So much of all this just seems so odd and so alien all of a sudden. I did a fair job of exposing myself to the will of the universe and I have to accept that this is what the universe wanted. I don’t bother with thoughts about how I could’ve moved faster and so on. I just never got to hear that guy’s story and do my good deed thing. That’s ok. I saved myself 70 bucks! Fuck. How could I even think that, but that’s what Mind does to us, it thinks things. Weird things. It does not mean we are those thoughts. They just come and many, like that one, just need to be let go.
My focus shifts now to Melissa the smiley security guard. What will she say on my return?
I can feel my glumness. I wonder if she will notice. I already know that I was much livelier and chirpy earlier. Filled with charitable potential. So I wonder if I should give her this money. But that is not what this is about for me. Symbolically I wanted to give that guy everything I had. And yes I did toy briefly with the idea of really giving him EVERYTHING I had. But naturally the universe saw fit to make sure I ended up giving him nothing. And now there’s a homeless old guy that I know about yet he does not know I exist. To him – I am not anything, not even nothing – yet for me he is something. A formative moment of madness or clarity, kindness or compulsion, I don’t know and it does not matter. I was happy I had tried but not elated.
I realised that I wanted to see Melissa and to give her a gift but that they were all in the car. So I returned to my car via the other lift so our first re-encounter would be fresh. I got 2 “Licenses-2-Live” and 3 button badges - a “I ‘heart’ life” which I’ve been wearing recently because I do, a set-of orange palm-trees on black and one that says “I’m out of my mind (back in 5 minutes)” and $20… as its USA and money talks…
And back down I go and return as if I was just coming back from my grandiose scheme. She is smiling. I stand a little way away… She looks me up and down and says she can’t tell any difference (I can’t write a southern drawl by the way). She doesn’t know. I’m definitely not as chirpy as I was but I am smiling. She asks if I shaved or something? I realise she is just looking at me physically. So I say “Oh, I’m just the same physically I was wondering if you had noticed anything different in my demeanour?” She was “Oh! No, I don’t think so” And went on to say she had imagined I was going to shave my head or something or come back wearing something crazy (very possible this last for those who know me).
So we chat about expectations and communications and how both of us had not imagined what the other would think or was really up to. I told her the story.
The dialogue exchange with her above has been deleted on the grounds of the author wishing to remain grounded, which is often difficult for him to do. Suffice it to say when I had gone out to find this guy I was also of the intention to never tell anyone ever. I wanted to do something for the impact it would make on someone and not for the credit I would receive. This has been an increasing desire on my part to introduce that more into my life. When the situation changed, I felt the universe had sort of tricked me so it inspired me to write this up.
Melissa Wilson is 20, she’s originally from Louisiana, and she’s in LA and writing her first novel. She likes the idea of psychiatry and thinks that she might go back to university soon to do more of that. I commended her on her wonderful spirit of friendliness. We both expressed the hope that we would see each other again sometime. I was tempted to trade an email but I thought that it was also unnecessary. We come from very different walks in life and if our paths cross again they will do that anyway and not just because we made it to be. Besides I know where she works and she can, if she is cunning reach me through the License 2 Live website. I had wanted to give her a “Greeters License” as well as a “Random Kindness” license but I did not have any of those with me so I gave her a “Ground Standing License” which was kind of good for her security guard role and a “One Day License” just for fun with instructions on how she could get more licenses and the 2 I wanted her to have – I hope she does and so can you **see below**.
I never gave her the $20. Our exchange was too nice to bring money into it and it was so much beyond what she expected after saying “Hello”. I kind of gave her extra gifts with the suggestion she could pass them on too and thus also share in the wonder of gifting.
Maybe tomorrow I will go and take a photo of her – if indeed she is still there. That way I will have some photography to aid the story… after all this is a long essay unalleviated by some snaps.
Go to this website – check out the licenses – you can order some for yourself and for now and the next few weeks they will be sent to you for free. This wonderful guy I have the fortune of knowing, Jason Keck aka The Jayman or Cheetah, has set this up. It’s a great way of making people smile and having a small but perhaps significant social impact on them and the fun in their lives.
My understanding of it is that these are great little reminders that we should live our lives according to our own rules and not the dictates of society. And they can function in a way as ‘omens’ – like if you have one around you might just ‘notice’ it right when you need to…
He’s done this all out of his time and pocket. By simple necessity and the fact that the demand is rising for them he has got to start charging – at LEAST for the post and packaging plus the small costs of the items themselves and someone to do all the shipping.
So check it out. Now for free ones and later for new variations!
And if you do get any, spread them on… the feeling of giving one to someone else and seeing their reaction is really fun.
The “legal” disclaimer in case you encounter any negativity (and I have only had 3 negative reactions out of about 150 gifting moments is that you are merely providing a reminder to people that they can act on these freedoms they already have.
I’ll have more to write about these in due course but I am almost done for tonight and I have a lot to do.
So… am I going to New York? I don’t know yet – I will decide that tomorrow. I think I probably will but it might not be on Sunday – maybe I’ll just take another day or 2 here in LA. There’ s no need to rush though there is one cool sneaky event to go to on Sunday in NYC, which would be good, and I do have that pattern of trying to do everything. Do I care about the money? No not really. Which leaves me wondering what I was really doing all evening.
And I wonder about the state I am in. This definitely counts as writing. It certainly happened very fast and i think that was as the result of it coming from a real experience. I just had to write what happened and what i felt. Easy. No need to make anything up. Was it overall born of boredom? Was it done at the prospect of excitement or simply torn from me so that at the last minute before I leave this town I do not fail in my goal of having written? What do you think?
I think I need to go to sleep…
Dr L. xxx
ps I also did not give Melissa the “I’m out of my mind - back in 5 minutes” button… I thought I’d keep that.