Tonight I went to the spot where Daryl McMurray was found dead last week in the City's North Side. There are concrete remnants of a structure tucked up on a steep hill, fifty yards from the railroad tracks. My friend Crazy Dave escorted me up there, at my request. I wanted to see where Daryl died and to pay my respects.
It's a short hike to get there, but hard to climb up the muddy hill and then the wet concrete. When you get to the top the hill, you're immediately met with this old cinderblock structure covered with blankets, tarps, anything to keep the wind out of the caverns inside. The encampment appears like some type of mad fortress. An emaciated face peers out from behind a wet and weathered blanket. We say “what's up” and keep moving. The face slowly withdraws back into the darkness.
There are piles of trash and debris everywhere. Rats rustle around. I put my hand in my pocket and caressed my knife. This was not friendly territory. My guys from the underpass keep their encampment spotless, but you could practically taste the feces and urine coming from this camp. I've seen Hill District crack houses and shooting galleries that are like the Hilton compared to this place.
A narrow path encircles the periphery of the structure. On the other side you can overlook the tracks. I ask Dave where they found Daryl, and he casually says, “you're standing on it.”
Immediately I was transported back to the ovens at Auschwitz, where I stood in the chamber where a million Jews and Roma died, yet felt nothing but numbness. Tonight was the first time since Poland that I have experienced this emotional effect–a response of non-reaction. Like it's simply too much information to process, so the brain steps in and shuts the organism down for a while for self-preservation purposes. It negates, rationalizes, minimizes, even discorporates, whatever it takes to get the job done and buffer the enormity of the present reality. I thought many thoughts but didn't feel a damn thing.
I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the tracks leading from this camp as I was in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Trains symbolize so much, but again I couldn't wrap my thoughts around anything in particular. much less feel anything.
I don't understand a whole lot of anything tonight. Maybe tomorrow will yield some perspective, perhaps not. If I don't understand this particular level of life it's because I simply can't. Walking to a spot and spending five minutes ain't the same as living and dying it. I'm a sociological tourist, that's it. A voyeur. Part of me is disgusted with myself for extracting so much out of these encounters. It is very selfish on some level. The guys at the underpass truly treat me as one of their own, but hopefully I will never really know what they go through daily. I'm a witness, not a participant. They tell me I'm “one of them” now but is that really true? To act is if I am would be fraudulent and self-serving. We are friends, building trust and getting to know each other better every week, but I am still a visitor. I do feel at home there, however that does not mean I'm not just visiting.
I'm done for the night. I bow down and thank God for the bountiful life he's provided, despite my numerous attempts to discredit His work.
December 18, 2012
Postscript (written Tuesday morning):
Last night, standing on the spot where this homeless guy Daryl lay dead a week ago, in this wretched encampment full of litter and disease, I realized at a gut level that I really don't know anything about anything. It's all a grand act we construct around ourselves to give our lives some type of definition in order to keep from going crazy. This encampment was void of any normal order or sense. It robbed me of any sense of emotional, mental or physical security that I had. Just one of those moments that calls into question everything you know or think you know.
We all need these moments, this being laid bare, in life before we can truly move forward in a new direction, even while understanding this “new awareness” is just going to be another mental construct to give some meaning to what to us appears as randomness.
I think the only real solution is developing a kinship, a strategic partnership, with God. The answers are not found with people and the world as we think we know it, given our extremely limited understanding and experience as a species of animal given only enough brains to be very dangerous, especially when in groups. But as God is beyond our infantile comprehension, how do you do that?
I think this can only happen when we let the world (ideas/thoughts/social constructs/philosophies/religions) fall apart around us and cling to nothing as it comes crashing to the floor, to never be put back together again. The freedom we crave can only come from not knowing, not by buffering ourselves with external comforts and mental or social constructs. We all need right-sized, but the average person simply can't go through life living like that. It takes dedication and perseverance, and I question my ability to hang in there and just let things be as they are, without judgement or fear. norske casino pÃ¥ nett