The Nature of Lonliness

Man Begging on Street

    Man Begging on Street

Every time I look at this photo it causes me to reflect not just on the society I live in, but upon myself. What is my reaction to this photo? What feelings, thoughts, and even sensations does it evoke? Did I act upon these intangibles when the situation was actually before me, or did I feel like a good person for being affected and then just move along? Had my little begging bowl been filled?
The begging bowl is what really gives this man away for what he is and what he is doing. Of course there are a multitude of back stories and nuances involved, but the basics are all here. We may pass hundreds of people on our city streets without them drawing any response from us whatsoever, but the moment that a bowl, hat, or guitar case appears we must deal with the moral dilemma that thrusts itself through our thin veneers. I say thin because the ones with a thick skin have already surfed away from this post leaving us to ponder ourselves uninterrupted. So what is it about that simple gesture that affects us this way? Yea or nay, we deal with each instance in a moment of passing. Even if there is no eye contact or verbal plea we feel the pull. I posit that we feel it because we are familiar with the transaction from the perspective of the person with the bowl. I believe we all have a bowl tucked away in our psyche that we will extend when our needs and circumstances dictate. I also believe that the twist we feel in our gut comes from the bare honesty of the bowl that is so unsurreptitiously imposed upon us, like a naked person strolling aloofly through the pressing crowds. Naked need in the midst of our illusions.
This bowl is simply an extension of the deeper need within us as humans that cries out to be noticed. The sign the beggar holds that explains the need comes with a subtext asking for just enough trust to fulfill the needs that lie like tattered camouflage upon the true hunger within. It is not good for us to be alone. Even when we reject the advances of those who would, however clumsily, seek to assuage this inner agony the existence of the need is still evidenced by the hostility brought to bear upon them. These ‘helping hands’ are threatening to touch the very core of our pain. For so many of us in our relatively cozy North American cocoons we have had the luxury of establishing a veritable litany of social hurdles for others to overcome before they will ever catch a glimpse of our little bowl we keep enshrined behind our walls of acquisitions and accolades. I know I have them, and I don’t even have very large walls, if you take my meaning. I like to feel safe, it seems, even more than I like to feel loved. How insane is that?

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