October 9th, 2002

The gentleman is always properly dressed


Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone remembered how cool it is to walk along curbs? I think about this every once in a while, mostly while I’m in the middle of doing it or contemplating an ant-hill or kicking through a pile of leaves along the way. I’m pretty certain that I have not changed significantly since I was about five years old. Oh, sure, there have been some adjustments here and there, mostly to accommodate things like work and responsibility, but at the heart of it all I am the same.

The child-like is crushed in us by the demands that living in the world makes. I’m not thinking of tantrums or hair pulling or otherwise acting out, as these get translated pretty well into adulthood. I’m talking about a sense of wonder or even a sense of fun that relies only on the simplest of things.

I can still remember being two or three and not being able to pronounce "PEZ" because to me the letters somehow didn’t make sense together. I never had a problem with "cinnamon" or "spaghetti." PEZ was my pronunciation bugbear. I still smile because I used to amuse myself by sticking every vowel sound I could think of between the "P" and the "Z" hoping that I’d fall upon the right one and remember the way the word sounded when my mom had said it. I was also much more adept then at loading the dispensers. It was almost as though my inability to say the word actually enhanced my ability to use the thing.

Most people hurrying through the park have no sense of being where they are. I’ve never seen anyone else there above the age of ten walking down the curb. It makes me sad.
The gentleman is always properly dressed

Consider yourself told

Oh, almost forgot... On the way to my meeting today, I passed a man who was unclean, unshaven, unhappy, and quite possibly unhinged. As I approached, he stopped his grumbling in the general direction of his shoes, looked me dead in the eye and asked, "Am I invisible?"

Since I didn’t have the time to enter into a long discussion over the metaphysical ramifications of what he was asking (after all, in the grand scheme of things, we all are, at least on some level. In some traditions, it is even desirable to recognize your intangibility as it is a reminder of the impermanence of the self...), I opted for the simplest answer that came to me. "Nope. I can see you just fine."

"Well ok then," he replied. "Make sure you tell everyone else that."

So anyway, there's a guy at the end of Boylston who, while not exactly pleasant to look upon, is decidedly not invisible (in the strictest sense.) Even if you don't hand him your spare change or have the time to stop and chat, give a nod in his direction to let him know that you can at least see him.