My mind has been with the homeless at the moment. Not in some kind of saint like oh I’ve got to help them all to save my soul way. It’s merely an unavoidable observation. These times have created distance between one another and those whose survival relies most on compassion have suffered the worst. The past three times I’ve been in the U-Bahn station at Leinerstraße I’ve seen guys huddled in crowds fumbling with icy fingers the tin foil that’ll guarantee their next temporary escape from reality.
Last night I was dozily walking down the three flights of stairs in the early hours of the morning, which I insist I must do every night to satisfy my own dirty habit when I was taken aback as I turned the last corner. A huge mound of flesh and clothes, two bottles of hard liquor and a pillow. The guy looked and begged me for just a night in the stairwell. I shrugged and simply said no worries and proceeded to the door to smoke. As I puffed on my cancer stick I had various thoughts, should I help this man completely and naively by allowing him shelter in the house where my girlfriend and another are in bed sleeping? How would I feel, sleeping on the cold hard marble floor in the cold Berlin night? Should I just not give a fuck, walk up the stairs and go on with my life? I decided to let him in was too risky for now, we had only exchanged a couple words and I wasn’t going to put everyone in danger for the sake of my own foolish empathy. I have great trust in the cosmos but only to a certain point. I nearly walked straight past and left him to his huddling and shivering but stopped and offered him a blanket for the night, a compromise. When I came down with it he was very grateful, I asked him what he was doing out on the streets, a choice he replied. Addiction can get the best of us. Some of my favorite artists and thinkers were on opioids for most of their miserable lives. He gave me a sly nod as I went for he morning bread today and I guess he’s still down there, plotting his next move, eyes half closed, savouring the peacefulness of the stairwell.
We all talk about privilege these days, whether it be an identity or situational version of it. There is a lot of uncertainty about who is due what, how much impact the past has had on our circumstances and where we can go forward from here. It isn’t easy to take the humility to offer help to someone, but sometimes the smallest abruption in the fabric can take the curtains down and reveal a brighter day than the one we all had pictured in our heads. I’m lucky to have landed on my feet here and close my eyes with comfort knowing I will have bread the next day. I am also very cautious with addiction, because I know I’m a greedonistic idealistic romantic when it comes to satisfying my dopamine levels.
I listen to a lot of Terrence McKenna and Allan Watts at night, it’s a form of addiction in itself. Act locally, think not globally but cosmically. These words have rung through my head for a while. It is an empowering message, practical and poignant. My voluntaristic activist side wants to organise, move and react to the situations around me. My inner voice knows to recharge, realign and renew in times of introversion and peace. We don’t know what’s really going on in this world, the signs can lead us to obscure planes and hostile waters. I have always tried to follow my gut and go all the way, a mix of trust and truth is a good remedy for doubt. Alongside a combination of social disorder and systematic deconstruction I believe there is a way to a better now.