—Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Watched the pants on the man walking ahead of me gradually fall down, a little more with each step. He seemed to take little notice, though it was clearly not intended as a fashion statement. His walk didn't slow, though it was barely more than a shuffle to begin with. By the time I reached him, they'd nearly reached his knees. He didn't release the five or so bags he carried in his right hand to catch his pants, though he did step off the sidewalk to readjust once walking became unmanageable. This converged mercifully with my need to pass, and I tried to extend him grace and dignity by not giving a glance as continued onward. What else could I have done?
Watched as another man, seated in front of a café, ripped pages from the front of his paperback book in clumps and stuffed them into his bag. I can make no sense of this.
They are the end of a continuum, these men. I suspect the other end is no less mad, driving sport utility vehicles, talking on mobile phones, drinking from Starbucks mugs, working to meet needs which may not exist and looking for some system (preferably with bullet points) to make living understandable, successful, rewarding, meaningful.
I am also on this continuum somewhere. I don't know where. It doesn't make much sense to move toward either end, at least not without a purpose. All these stories are still my story, too.
Sometimes I just want to turn it off for a little while.