I love this song. I don’t understand a word of it, but it completely speaks to me. A big part of why I don’t record is that I’m a big believer in the whole “wall of sound” concept, and well, when I’m on my own, my wall of sound is more like a chain-link fence.
This is what it means to be a bard. Giving people the feelings that I get listening to this, that’s what I want to do. I’ve been told I’ve achieved it a few times, but it is the goal, every performance.
My dear Bagginses and Boffins, Tooks and Brandybucks, Grubbs, Chubbs, Hornblowers, Bolgers, Bracegirdles and Proudfoots.
Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday!
Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
I have things to do. I’ve put this off for far too long. I regret to announce — this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell.
Originally published as two separate posts on April 6 and April 7, 2018. I have chosen to republish it now, because it remains very relevant in September of 2020.
Today I worked from home, but left in the afternoon to come down to a going away party for another SingleHopper.
Getting into Union Station at 5pm means you’re the one late salmon swimming upstream, so I walked a slightly different way to get out of the station, which means I came out slightly more west than I normally do. As I headed north, west of the river, I came upon a young man, somewhere in his 20s, clearly homeless, cold, hungry, sitting on the freezing ground, and wracked with body-shaking sobs of despair.
And of course, since it was just after five, there were hundreds of people walking past him, ignoring or pretending to ignore him.
I was late to the party. I could have kept walking. I almost did keep walking, but I stopped instead.
I actually had a few dollar bills – not enough, of course, but I got them out to give to him. And I knelt down next to him and touched him on the arm to try to reach through his sorrow, and the first, ridiculous, heartbreaking thing he said to me was,
“I’m sorry. I’ve been so depressed.”
And part of me wanted to laugh in disbelief, and part of me wanted to weep in horror.
So I swallowed all of that, and gave him the money and asked him if I could buy him something to eat, which he turned down because someone had given him some granola bars earlier that day.
I tried to convince him to let me get him something, but he wouldn’t budge, and just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean I get to insist you take more of my charity than you want. So I said “good luck” and went on my way. The party was fun, and I got to see my friends, and we all spent money that probably could have been used better on drinks and ping-pong at the most ridiculous bar.
Of course, I looked for him on the way back to the train, but he wasn’t there. I’ll look for him more. But before I do, I’ll get to sleep in my bed, in my house, with my dearest wife, after checking on my amazing children, and then tomorrow, I’ll go to an event to be with other friends to watch people hit other people with sticks. And I’ll feel simultaneously overjoyed and terribly guilty about it.
But under all of it? Is all this:
Life is short and hard and the black dog always wins in the end. I spend a fair amount of my time bewildered about how and why human beings are terrible to each other.
We are failing as a country. As a people. As a planet. We have got to do better. I didn’t post this so people will tell me how great I am. I’m not. I left him there, and for all I know he’ll be dead before morning. And I left him there anyway.
People think I have no sense of humor. People think I’m too political. People think I waste my time posting memes about overturning the established order. Well, this is partly why. Because sometimes I cannot think of anything else to do.
There are so many empty houses in America, we could house everyone. There’s so much food we could feed everyone. But instead, we’re obsessed with quarterly profits and shareholders.
Sure, I stopped and treated another human being with respect and caring and gave him a couple bucks so he could have some food, but in reality, I should never have had the interaction in the first place. He shouldn’t have been there.
Everyone should have shelter. Everyone should have food. Everyone should have health care.
It’s not enough to just be not racist. We have to be anti-racist. That means constant self-evaluation and work. While not exclusive to people who look like me, it is the work of majority to make sure that minorities are not excluded.
So I’ve decided that as Facebook becomes ever more difficult, I’m going to be copying some of my content from there to here, in preparation for the platform imploding. I don’t know if I can backdate the posts or not, but I’ll put “originally published” at the top of each post or something. I won’t be copying over FB comments, however.