The emotional receipt of the world


I look at the world and see things that need to be fixed. This to-do list of global wrongs is so long it would wipe out more than the Earth’s entire rain forests if printed out. But it doesn’t need to be printed out. I get an emotional receipt every time I stride through town. People’s lives swirl towards me in an assault of rattling tin cans, discarded newspapers and petrified sweat mingled with drips and drabs of despair.

Images sweep me up and away to a place where I’m left asking why some people are born with a head start and others are placed three miles behind the start line.

To the lone woman trying to sell magazines on the side of the road late last night, wearing a flimsy garbage bag over a dress to protect against the rain… I am sorry. I didn’t have coins on me to help you out. I saw the longing in your eyes for a dry, warm spot in my car. Where would you have liked to go if I let you in?

To the man who battled to make a bed in the space between two outside pillars a few days ago. I watched as you unfolded your plastic sheet and tried to lay it down on the wet grass, with nothing else to protect you from the elements. You looked so vulnerable out in the open, and yet so resigned to the fact that you did not have four walls of your own to protect you in fading light. I am sorry that not everyone gets their own piece of land to call home. What would you have built if that opportunity was given to you?

To the teenaged street kid with the body of an eight-year-old and the weariness of an 80-year-old. I am sorry your first experience of life was a womb swirling with wine, methylated spirits and methamphetamine. I have no answer as to why so many other children first opened their eyes in an amniotic sac of pregnancy vitamins and happy hormones. What would you have aspired to be if you were in a classroom and a caring kindergarden teacher asked you that question?

There are too many questions and not enough answers. I feel their pain but I also feel remnants of hope. And perhaps that is the human condition. That despite everything, we are wired to survive and to persist. To beat the system. And our own demons.

If we exist in something like The Matrix and we’re a coded DNA heap of 1’s and 0’s, I cling to the hope that we’re all noughts striving to be ones. One with ourself and one with others. To think of a lesser reality would mean it was all for naught.

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3 thoughts on “The emotional receipt of the world

  1. Thanks for sharing, I really really love this. I find myself thinking the same thoughts as I’m going about my day. Here in Hawaii there is a really bad homeless issue. I see them every single day camped out in vacant parking lots, or even beaches. The sad thing is, a lot of them have jobs and still cannot afford a place to live due to the high cost of living. It’s heartbreaking. I always wonder what their stories are, who they were before they were homeless.

    • Jay says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I think there are many of us soft souls who spend a lot of time contemplating the pain and hardship of others!

      It’s so scary that the cost of living is so high where you are. Keep well.

  2. Paul Mahlum says:

    I just want to mention that I have appreciated very much your comment on my blog about the use of the words “patient” and “client” in psychotherapy. I have decided to replace my category “patient” with “analysand,” which is a term that has gone out of style but what has meant someone undergoing psychoanalysis. Although the word sounds a little funny and in my narratives the person in therapy is in psychoanalytic psychotherapy (he goes once a week), I think it works better than the word “patient.” As of now, I am not going to take out the word “patient” from previous posts because I think I can use the analysts’s thinking about his choice of words to develop his character. Thanks again, and tomorrow’s post will deal with this theme.

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