Monday, March 31, 2008

foreground

The metro is blocking my view this morning. At least it’s blocking some of it. I can’t see the beach, the waves or the gulls. I can’t see the skyline or the mountains for that matter. Lot’s of windows here filled by a hulking, hideous, green and yellow, diesel , double length, people mover idling at the curb. It blocks one view, however it does enhance another. I have to focus on the foreground this morning. I have to look at what is right in front of me for a change. I’m usually not very good at that.
It’s ironic because one of my motivations for starting this Monday morning Starbucks routine was so that I would stop for awhile and focus on what is right in front of me. When the background is removed from my view I’m forced to look at the foreground. I have no doubt that I was created more for the foreground than the background. I just prefer the other. Out there I can dream. I can imagine. I can plot and I can scheme. I can envision what is out there and how I can get myself and others who will follow to the places of mountains and skylines.
I’m here for the view. If I didn’t want or need the view, then I’d do this from my office. I come here early for the seat. If I didn’t want the seat, then I’d come at a more reasonable time. So this morning, I have the seat, I have the fireplace, I have the grande drip, and I have the view….at least the one intended for me this morning. What I get to do with it is now totally up to me.
When you do this as long as I have been, you begin to realize that places become defined. Allow me to elaborate. The same people order the same drinks waiting for the same bus to go to the same jobs. The same guys come to read the same papers and have the same armchair coaching discussions. The same writers grab the same seats for the same inspiration. This morning it is very much the same here. It’s my own Seattle version of “The Truman Show”. There is one anomaly though. There is one thing out of place.
It’s kind of like one of those paintings that are basically just a wash of one color, with a dot of contrasting color placed somewhere on the canvas. You are drawn to the contrast. It takes every bit of your focus away from the rest. This morning, the out of place element is a homeless man. Someone new I’ve never seen before, or worse yet maybe not noticed? Most aren’t acknowledging his presence, except the barista who asks politely “Sir, can you please move away from the doorway”, at the request of an uncomfortable patron. I really don’t know why. He’s a customer after all. He has a bigger drink than I have. The only difference is that I’m carrying a laptop and he’s carrying blankets. They didn’t ask the tall guy with the khaki dress slacks, green hoodie and purple hair to move away. I personally found that look far more disturbing. He chose that.
It’s somewhat depressing at times to live in an area where so much social awareness and compassion is preached and such an air of smugness about our level of tolerance, as long as it’s not in my backyard. We all love to dream of mountains and skylines in the background while trying to ignore what’s right in front of us. It’s quite tempting to preach about what needs to be done until we get confronted with the reality that someone needs to do it and just maybe it needs to be me. This guy has a name beyond “sir”. At one time, or perhaps even now, he was a significant part of someones foreground. He has a story as do we all and it’s undoubtedly a chapter in the grander story of man. It’s quite conceivable that it’s a more interesting chapter than mine. I’ll never know though till until I focus on the foreground long enough to ask him his name.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

well did ya ?

Dan said...

Yes, His name is Matt...37 years old, here 3 weeks from Sacramento

Anonymous said...

Great

Anonymous said...

It's why I decided sometime ago to not ignore anyone in need, but in particular, the homeless. Sometimes, they don't want to talk with me, and it actually hurts me because it makes me think they think I'm just another Joe Shmoe who really doesn't care. It's amazing to see what a little compasion and conversation can do for a homeless person, but it's just as amazing at what it can do for me. In the end of my encounters with some of these people, I wonder what will become of my future or that of someone I love dearly. I look at the young ones around me and they bring a smile to my face, but when I walk away from them, I remember the last homeless person I helped in some small way. It's a sort of balance for me to not get too comfortable with that part of life. Thanks for your honesty, Dan.

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert , but there seems two main issues; substance abuse and mental illness. And with that what came first ,the chicken or the egg. What a mess.
I recently saw a man who appeared ingeneral to be schitzophrenic slumped on 5th street moening with apurple gangareen hand . he would not talk to me.

Anonymous said...

What did you ask him?

Anonymous said...

well , i asked to see his hand, which might of been naive. then i told him he should go to the hospital. then I looked around for a cop. nada. then i gave it up because my wife and i were gonna miss the matinee. didn,t want it to cost that extra 8 bucks . so much for my halo.

Anonymous said...

baby steps, anonymous, baby steps. you cared enough to ask him.