In a Room Built from Words
Sitting at the public library. I think about the fact that every single story here was written by a human being. And in that humans life, family, community, I wonder if it was monumental. These books helped individuals overcome financial debts and emotional burdens, achieve lifetime goals, and find meaning in life.. It's intimidating to me. They all look so good, and I wish I could devour them all; but I sit content in the corner, admiring them all from a far. Sipping on titles like Wormwood, Light and Heat, and Much to do about nothing like a glass of champagne. I have secured my fort In the "large font" section, because it was the only place I could find solidarity. Surely few people will bother me here.
Looking around once more. I am amazed by the fact that they have Sometimes I sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit by Courtney Barnett on CD and that I can borrow it FOR FREE. Which is awesome. I wish the CD player in my car worked. It reminded me that I live in a country where they pay to keep places like this open to make them available to the public.
My quiet space is compromised when I overhear two men discussing where they stayed last night.. A sad thought considering they are both dressed for the harsh weather, and I highly doubt the question relates to the same premise as the banter I hear young men chatting about. One man describes his cold camper without heat. "Plenty of blankets" he says. "But it was still chilly". They agree that has been very cold lately and suddenly the idea of walking out to my car doesn't seem so bad after all.. At least it's only a minute or less.. The other man claims that he stays pretty warm, under the bridge where he sleeps and my brain whirls... I wonder what has happened in their life to cause this situation. I cannot fathom the idea of ANY human finding solace under a bridge on a cold night like last night. They continue banter, and their youthful memories of chasing chickens seem to lighten the mood a bit. I'm intrigued to hear that the Bridge Man used to work for the carnival! Actually, a few different circus and carnivals, and has memories from as young as 13 years old working for Barnum and Bailey. A life full of trains, traveling, bears and Elephants and lions... I imagine yards of brightly colored tents being loaded onto train cars, this man giving his friend a hard, and the two of them discussing the people they encountered during the stay... "25 years or hard work" he declares proudly. Such a vibrant life. I admire this free spirit, and hope the bandana on his head keeps his head warm. He begins discussing his disability and need for his medicine which I'm presuming he can't afford...
I wonder if he's okay. How this individual would define "okay" and if there's really anything I can do for him. He seems to be in good cheer at the moment. But I can't help to wonder when the last time he ate a decent, warm meal was. And where he's gonna go when he leaves here... What are his biggest concerns in life? Probably not the broken CD player in his car.. Rather whether or not he has a warm place to sleep tonight.. or if he'll be able to get the medication he needs.. I feel so privileged. Privileged and I feel awkward at my inclination to gawk at this strange way of life and that I'm writing about it now..
I find myself glad this library is open once again to harbor individuals like him who have no warm place to spend their days.
I hold no grudges to him for "not working" or "being lazy"... It's quite irrelevant what I believe, and I should not project my idea of what living should be, on another human who was created as an equal. Priorities are relative to ourselves.
However, the availability to basic human rights in a developed country like ours needs to be addressed. Call me a dreamer for my ideals that all humans deserve warmth, food, and education in exchange for the fullest of their efforts if you will. I would find the opposition incomprehensible. Of course this man is not perfect, and none of us are. But we are all here playing our part in what at times seems to be the Game of Life.
None of us should feel anxious about our next day of living... And I, for goodness sake, have so much more important things to think about than fixing the CD player in my car. I am thankful for this small transgression, and thankful for this man reminding me that I need to be thankful that I know I will be home sleeping in a warm bed tonight.