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January 18, 2010

seeing me seeing you seeing me

The bus was quiet today - I never realized Martin Luther King day was so celebrated. I tried to feel positive about that instead of just sad that I was among the few who still had to work. I quickly realized the irony since I like my job and I am working for justice - environmental as much as social justice - something I believe Dr King would support today.

On my way to work I was one of two riders. Last week people had to stand it in the bus was so crowded. On my way home ridership had increased by thirty percent! I was one of three.

There was a beggar on the offramp as we exited the highway. I looked at her noticing her worn clothes and raggedy sign crafted from an old box and felt as I usually do, a bit of hopeless sorrow. This woman, or someone like her is at this intersection most days during rush hour. Due to the holiday there was no wait at the intersection and I watched her behind the protective glass of the bus window as we sped past. I wondered if she realized it was a holiday and why there was minimal traffic. I assume rush hour at this location is a lucrative spot. Would she get more or less donations on a day like this?

To my surprise there was another beggar at the next stop light and this one looked me in the eye - the protection of the glass doesn't hide as much as I thought. How do you look at a beggar? I want to give them dignity without inspiring a false hope that I might give them cash, which I never do. I reflect back on stories of beggars and realize I have an assumption that if I look at them with dignity (whatever that is) they might recover and work their way to not being a beggar. The ridiculousness of this hits me - and I become aware that it stems not from a place of actually wanting to connect with this person but rather from a place of me wanting to look good in the world. Its is amazing how quickly I went from thinking about someone's very real suffering to focusing on me.

January 02, 2010

empty

I want to write something but
all I feel is the emptiness of
having everything I want and need
and knowing it is not enough