On my way on this block at this moment at a bright sunlit corner with nothing at all going on in that moment a small man is seated in wheelchair facing the sun. He looks like hell. His two front teeth are out. His feet are wrapped in new clean blue hospital feet protectors, the sort people wear when casts are removed and they're shuffling around on wounded feet. It is the sort of setup one hurries by to avoid and ignores whatever they say, most likely a request for a handout. As I walk toward his direction I arc closer to him sitting there instead of curve away from him as I pass by. He mumbles something to me about walking carefully. I don't hear him exactly but he's talking about me walking.
I'm already walking carefully as can be. I'm measuring every single step. A good 90% of my thoughts are devoted to processing each step. I'm having a good time. "Watch this" I say bragging. I lift my sticks and take three well placed steps, "See? Huh? What? I got this. I got this whole walking thing down." I turn back and show off my walking skill. To a guy in a wheelchair. "See?"
The man launches into a bitter tirade about how people are not taking care of him. How he needs help but the people who provide help don't provide it to him. He curses the city hospital nearby just five or so blocks away out of sight. He complains about the nearby men's shelter not being a hospital that can care for his feet. I ask, "Can you walk usually?" "Not like this!" He complains his shelter tells him he must leave by 6:00 a.m. no matter what even if it's a blizzard. He curses the nearby courthouse (nice civic building they light up extravagantly all the time). He curses the Hospital, the nearby men's shelter, City Hall, the capitol building and the Veterans Association and tells me in hostile language how he wants to go full on Timothy McVeigh and blow up all those non-helping bastards all at the same time. Kaboom.
I told him a lot of people harbor the same sentiment. I commiserated. I told him I am aware of all those places he mentioned and he's right and sometimes it's even worse because they make rules that nobody can abide. I get him. He's right. I described my travails match his own in some details.
People are waiting, I must go.
He said automatically but still innocently and sincerely and sweetly, his tone changed as I'm leaving, "Have a happy Easter."
Realizing as he said it how incongruent his adieu was with the full content of his discourse that preceded it and realizing by having it mirrored that he's poisoning a stranger's mind and doing that on a holy holiday, he abruptly switched to preacher mode, to balance it, and instructed me gravely to always forgive all who trespass against me as I am already forgiven my own sins and trespasses I've done against others. He delivered a portion of the Lord's prayer if not exactly in Christian canon form, recalling his teaching, in that moment of his automatic departing phrase. He fixed his own thoughts right there in his chair in the sun remembering we can forgive and we can heal.
It's not at all odd that he holds these two extreme opposites simultaneously and acts them out. He's human he doesn't have to make sense or be consistent.
"Yes, I will. Thank you for that."