|Please leave me alone|
Please click here for more broken-themed Thematic
I came across this tragically lost soul as I walked through a neighborhood on downtown's eastern edge, a place that couldn't seem to decide whether it wanted to gentrify itself beyond its currently gritty reality.
When I first noticed this man, a woman was standing over him, asking him repeatedly in both English and French if he was okay, if he needed help, if he wanted her to take him somewhere safe. After a few verbal attempts, he finally waved her off, telling her he didn't need anything from anyone. I'm guessing he was sleeping off the last of that afternoon's beers - that's a can of Old Milwaukee beside him - and felt safer where he was than anywhere else.
Eventually, she realized he wasn't budging, and she disappeared back into the late afternoon crowd, leaving him to roll back over and return to whatever passed for rest in a life that seemed to offer none.
I don't come here often, but when I do I seem to have this habit of crossing paths with society's lost souls - here's Exhibit A. I'm not entirely sure why. I don't necessarily seek them out, but when I do see them, I can't help but raise my camera and record the moment. Exploitative? Perhaps. Should I have followed that woman's lead and made an attempt of my own? Honestly, I still feel guilty that I didn't even ask.
But I realize the world can be a broken place in so many ways, with enough broken people in it to overwhelm even the most tough-minded Good Samaritan. We pick our battles, choose where we can do the most good, decide when it makes the most sense to dive in, and when to save our efforts for another day, for someone else. I wish we all had enough reserves to help everyone, in every way. I wish resources were limitless. I realize life doesn't work that way.
As I slowly lowered my camera and walked toward the Metro (subway) entrance mere steps away, I wondered if on this day I had made the right call. I'm guessing I'll never know.
Your turn: How do you decide when to help and when to leave it for another time, another person? Does it ever overwhelm you?