The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes- Street life
better snap out of it, partner. Youre too young and smart
to be living like this.
ask me why Im out here, and I have to say that I couldnt
take it anymore, I was burned out. Im sure it was a gradual process,
wearing me down, but then sometimes it seems to me the change occurred
overnight. One day I was game for things, willing to push myself into
something for the experience, if nothing else; and the next day, that
man was gone, he was missing something. That something might have been
the last of my youth. I was a changed man, fully entered into a new
phase in my life. Time, it seems, had dictated to me as it did with
everyone else; eventually it will have its say.
With me, it took a little longer than it does with some people; I had
good health and even looked younger than my years, which people regularly
pointed out. That, it seemed to me, meant I was doing something right.
It was more reassuring than being told the opposite, or that I looked
I still meet people who, because of my appearance, cant understand
why Im not doing something else with my life. I look intelligent
- collegiate, some say. I dont look like the typical street person
or vagrant. I dont look crazy. What in the hell am I doing out
here wandering the streets with a pack over my shoulder, sleeping in
alleys and parks? Wheres my car? Dont I have a job? And
is that booze I smell on you at this time of day? You better snap out
of it, partner. Youre too young and smart to be living like this.
Yes, theres always a good soul out there trying to give you a
boost with a pep talk, and I am never rude to them. I listen to what
they say and nod my head and smile because I really have no answer for
them. Not one that would satisfy, for I dont know if I have the
right words for it.
The simplest way I can put it is that Im where I am now because
I have nowhere else to go at the moment, no place calls to me, no particular
Physically, I could be somewhere else, but my mind would be in the same
place, regardless of city or street, or the people. My mind is outside
of things in that I never feel completely given to any place or activity;
I seldom feel an attraction toward people and their doings strong enough
to bring me closer. Im aware of a distance even if theyre
not. And I have to wonder at the connections people have
to their environment, and others around them. What are those bonds?
What compels them to keep plunging into the fray?
Even when I was younger and more committed to accepted practices, I
wondered how long I could play the part. For I knew that is what it
was, and I knew the time and effort it took in carrying it out.
Well, one day the show didnt go on, it seems. Somewhere along
the line I gave up playing any of the designated roles. I ran into myself.
It all led there, for I was too depressed for it to lead anywhere else,
other than death. No role will sustain you when youre in that
much pain and doubt. You turn quickly one day and there you are; you
see yourself. And you are either so repulsed that it will eventually
kill you, or you let out a little sigh of relief, thinking its
not so bad, you can do something with this (although not along that
same path you were on, the one that almost did kill you).
So Im still here, taking it day to day. I no longer look further
What about your future? I hear. You have to plan for something.
But plannings out for the moment - at least the long-range kind.
That kind of thing frustrates (the inevitable lowering of expectations)
to the point of depression, and I dont need to be going in that
I had no choice but to accept the fact that I was a failure at what
many people call a normal life, a definite failure. Look
at the results, I said to myself. Can you call yourself a success, you
who have had suicide on your mind more often than youd care to
admit? You who have actually tried to go through with it. You who drink
yourself into a stupor every night, which is the only time you sing
or laugh. Yes, youre a man sitting at the top all right, a man
in full command of his days, a man with a plan.
I tried to laugh at this, but that rang hollow. I figured I would probably
be considered a sick man by certain professionals who specialized in
mental illness. Perhaps it was emotional, or a denial, as they say in
the rehabs. Perhaps a touch of schizophrenia and drug burn-out. In my
mind, I could see the doctor holding his clipboard and nodding his head,
occasionally jotting down something. And me really focusing on his mustache,
his haircut, his big ears or his well-manicured fingers. I would try
to put myself in his shoes for a bit, try to gather from the details
at hand some kind of picture of his existence, and what the advantages
might be in doing things his way. And yet I would never trade lives,
no matter how much of a success this doctor was considered
to be. No, I have never met the person I would trade lives with. Ive
been with myself long enough now that Id like to see how it all
plays out, without thinking in terms of success or failure.
I sit in whatever space I call mine for the moment and watch and listen,
reflect and sing, talk to myself, let another day go by. True, Im
not as outgoing as I used to be. As I said, there came a day when things
changed for me, and I didnt feel the old powerful need to be understood
in some way, by somebody. You might say a few concerns evaporated, became
pointless to me; I had shed a skin of some sort. I now feel easier for
it, as if it were necessary.
Not that I can say theres any great improvement, but theres
no use pretending that what was still is. Time to get on, if youre
going to do that, in the way that feels right. No more explanations
for those who have defined me already.
© Authur Blake Feb 2004
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