interview, special interest
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My day with a homeless man and how it changed my life. (part 3)

I had gotten to the dock at around 12:30. I had no idea what time it was, I had only a few bucks in my pocket. For some unknown reason I left everything else at home. I looked up at the sun and then down at the giant compass on the ground. Thankfully I had when I was a child I learned to make a sundial. I used my self as the clock hand and faced north. Wow, it was already 3:30. “You know what that is?” Harry pointed off into the distance.

“A commercial fishing boat?” My friend was actually a commercial fisherman, and I knew the exact kind of boat it was.

“Commercial? Yeah, I suppose so. You know what it’s used for?”

“Drops a net and drags the fish in?”

“Nope, it looks like it could be but it’s actually for catching larger fish. You get one of those boats and a small crew. You could easily make about $8000 a day.”

“At what cost though? It takes years for those fish to develop, to grow.” Harry paused for a moment, I struck a chord and I knew I needed to stop. I shrugged my shoulders.

“You ever listen to Led Zeppelin?” I nodded “They were brilliant, I mean how did they know? It took me until I was 34 before I knew they were singing about Kundalini meditation.” Wow, I was completely floored, Harry knew about Kundalini yoga? “I spent a while practicing Kundalini meditation. How ’bout you you ever study any meditations?” I smirked.

“Oh, I’ve studied Shamanism, Buddhism, Hinduism…”

“You studied Buddhism? Yeah, I spent some time with out of body meditation too. That shit’s really hard, disorienting. You never study Kundalini though you know..” He pointed to the base of spine.

“The coiling serpent that unwinds and goes up your spine. I’ve studied that, never been successful at astral projection though.”

“No?” Harry was surprised again by how much I knew.
“What about Mormonism, I mean how the fuck is that still a religion? Mormonism, Moron, you’d think someone would see that.”

“Or at least see how steeped in Freemasonry it is.”

“What about those golden tablets? Surely someone would’ve found them again. That whole area has been developed. Mormonism, Moron.” We both laughed, I then remembered, I had some money in my pocket. I reached into my pocket and handed Harry my money.

“Here, It’s not much but I want you to have it. It’s all I have.” Harry had a cheered smile to his face.

“What? Seriously? I mean, I’ll take your money, but wow thanks a lot. I can really use this! Especially since I can’t work anymore, with my leg and all.” I stood up and Harry looked over to the girl sitting by us. “Excuse, me. Excuse me miss?” She turned and looked at him. “I’ve lost my talking dog have you seen him?” She didn’t know what to say she just covered her mouth and giggled.

“No, I’m sorry.”

“He’s real smart, he’s a russell terrier have you seen him” She was just shaking her head nervously, she didn’t know how to respond. Harry thanked her for her time and we started back down the pier.

“I’m telling you, you need to run for Senator. You’re a smart guy. You are one of the smartest I’ve come across. I mean you’ve got it all, the looks, the smarts. You need to be Senator.” We passed through the ferry terminal and stopped at the nearby park.
It was now late-mid day, the sun was filling the area with a dawn like light. “I tell you about my story yet? The hero’s a dog. It’s the next Tom Sawyer I tell you.” I listened to Harry as I looked around the area. “You see I’m swimming going out to catch a wave, and my dog it’s running back and forth barking at me to get back.” There was a pause. “I wish I knew what happened to that book, I left it in someone’s trunk and I have no clue where it is now.” Harry heaved a deep sigh, for those who don’t know losing one’s art, writing, or any creation is an incredibly upsetting experience. This is especially true when your art is all you have. Harry immediately rebounded though “It’s perfect outside. Look around, smell the air.” The air had that musty, salty smell, from the ocean. Harry closed his eyes. “You hear that? The trees are talking” He looked at me, and I closed my eyes.

“Yes, I can hear it.”

“There’s a difference you know between the sound of a maple tree and the sound of an oak. How do you put that in writing? How do you describe the difference between the sound of a Maple and an Oak? Only when I have described that sound so my reader knows what I’m talking about have I done my job. I’m a great writer. I’m not arrogant though I’m…”

“You’re not cocky your confident.”

“No, I’m good, real good. I love art. Van Gogh, you know him right. Brilliant painter, he used to be at a monastery before he ever created the paintings we know. He thought it was unfair that the church would not help all the people that sought assistance. So you know what he did? He gave away everything he had. Then he went off on his own, he mixed his own paints. Sure he cut off his hear and he was a little nuts. But, damn he gave up everything, that is truly a great human. When I finally saw his painting starry night, it was incredible. It was all that frustration and drive that went into every dot of his painting. You could see, you could feel it.” Harry was lost once again in the intensity of life and his memory. “Look around you, I mean look breathe it all in. You know why an artist creates? You know what art is?” He paused waiting for me to answer, but I had to know what his answer was. “The painting is the reflection, it is the reflection of the artist. The artist needs it to appreciate himself, and his life. The painting is a reflection. Look around you what do you see? Everything you see, the air we breathe everything, we are in God’s painting.” Harry expanded his arms into the air. “None of this is real, we are God’s painting.” Once again I was floored I just took a deep breath and contemplated what he said for a moment. In that instant all of my problems and sufferings disappeared. It seemed like an hour past, I realized it was getting late.

“Hey, Harry it’s getting late and I really need to get going. When can I see you again?” He shook his head no, with a frown on his face.

“You’re not going to see me again. Let me tell you something i wrote. There is an newly appointed emperor and he looks to his sage and says. Oh, wise sage I want to know all of the world’s knowledge so I may be a better ruler. The sage agreed. Twenty years passed and he returns with 25 large books. Here is the world’s knowledge in these 25 tomes. The emperor looked at him and said. Sage I am too busy running my kingdom to read all this come back with a more condensed version. With that the sage left. Another 20 years passed and the sage returned with 3 volumes. The emperor looked to him and said I am still to busy, you must condense it again for me. The sage returned and the emperor lay on his death bed. Oh, great sage what is the world’s knowledge. The sage looked at him and said we are born, we suffer, then we die. With the sage’s final word the emperor died.” Harry’s face took on a somber appearance. “Life is about suffering. It’s all pain. Life is pain and suffering.” I looked at Harry and thought do I have any authority to say anything to this? Have I ever been in a war? No. Have I ever been without a home or money? No. Despite this though I still answered Harry.

“No, Harry life isn’t about suffering. Life is whatever you bring to it.”

“No, man I love life, it’s perfect out here what more could we ask? Beautiful view, crisp air… it’s just this damn leg.” Harry paused. “It’s a great day to die.” I didn’t know what to say so I just listened. “You know who the second president was?” He certainly could switch subjects. I thought for a moment. “John Adams, most people don’t remember because he was in office for 4 years. Then we had Jefferson. Jefferson and Adams had opposing views. It’s because of Jefferson that we have this Democracy. I don’t know how much longer I have.” I was starting to get worried about Harry. “You have to be Senator. Someone has to make the laws. Look around you. You see all these people walking by? They’d all give up their freedom for their creature comforts.” Harry was waving his arms yelling, the moment was becoming quite surreal, it was as if I were a spectator in all of this. “Do you think I am wrong? Do you honestly think any one of these people would take things into their own hands?” Some of the people glanced over at Harry, and unfortunately I knew the answer. “People are dumb.” There was a pause. ” That is why I write so simply. So everyone can understand my writing. I want to reach out to everyone even those kids who can’t read. In the Bible, in the book of Genesis Joseph’s two sons Ephraim and Mannasseh, Ephraim’s decedents went on to found America. We are Ephraim in the bible. Mannasseh is Israel. We are Ephraim. You have to be Senator. Help this country.” Harry had gone from asking me to be Senator or writer to basically telling me I would be Senator. I thought to myself I know nothing of politics and before I could finish my thought he was answering.”Yeah, politics aren’t that great, and it’s not going to be easy. Especially with all that corruption but you can do it. You have everything just like the Kennedy’s.” I stood there and watched as the people walked by, I thought about it for a while. Harry was silent looking intently at me.

“Ok, Senator I can look into that.” I pulled out my pad and paper and in big letters wrote senator with the date and Harry’s name. I then showed it to Harry.

“Don’t worry about me I’ll be fine. You’ll be good take care my friend My Senator. My Senator!” With that he wheeled off back up the pier. I thought about following him, but I knew he was just making it easier for me to say goodbye. That is why I wrote this, I wrote it for Harry, I wanted others to know that there is greatness in the seemingly least among us. Harry is a great man, a man the government and society has tossed aside. I cannot say whether I will see Harry again, or if I will actually pursue the senate. I do know that the day I spent with Harry and everything I learned has forever changed who I am. I also want to thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you too have gained something from Harry.

5 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. I rarely take the time out to read anything online. This story, I couldn’t stop reading.

    Thanks Senator.

    Peace
    Mike

  2. Tim Eby says

    Great story with great story telling. If you look around and actually see what’s there you’ll be one of the lucky few.

  3. Streetkid says

    I’m was a homeless kid up until September. I know a few Harrys, but this guy, I always remember this guy. When I was out west, I was smoking a cigarette, and an older senor came up to me, and gestured for a spare. He was one of those guys your mother tells you not to make eye contact with, the raving type, you know. I gave him a stoge, and I was reading my book, but he was still standing there babbling incoherently. Then he stopped, so I looked over, and he looked at me and he said “I’m a basketcase, aren’t I?”. I said I didn’t know, was he? And he waited a few minutes and then looked back down at me and said “Guess I’m pretty close.” and walked away. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it made me really happy to know that I listened to somebody, and they let me know they were more than what they appeared.

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