SELF PORTRAIT :: INSPIRED

“I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island many years ago.  It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless suffer in the winter months.  He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me about his schedule, panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in a church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amid the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides.  He told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water, just the way we were sitting now, even when it got cold and he had to wear newspapers after he read them.  And I asked him why. Why didn’t he go to one of the shelters? Why didn’t he check himself into the hospital for detox?

And he stared out at the ocean and said, “Look at the view, young lady.  Look at that view.”

And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said.  I try to look at the view.  That’s all.  Words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place  to go, nowhere to be.  Look at the view. When I do what he said, I am never disappointed.”

((Excerpt from A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen))

…A self portrait inspired by this book.

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