He lives in the metrorail station. Most of the time, he lies precariously on his side while his enormous belly, protruding from the same threadbare t-shirt he wears everyday, hangs over the low wall.
This Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, had a great fall and could barely put himself back together again.
All the king’s men scurry by, too preoccupied with that precious illusion of having one’s shit together, to help this cracked shell of a man. They look angry in their pursuit of meaning.
They teach me nothing. He teaches me everything.
They rush. He sits.
They're going somewhere. He's going nowhere.
Stripped of all possession except the air in his lungs and that massive burden of flesh, he embodies the journey of being human.
I trudge along my own path and face two choices at the turnstile: northbound or southbound, faith or uncertainty.
I wonder about the passers-by, many souls with roofs over their heads who seem absolutely miserable. Do they fear losing what they never possessed? Do they fall off the wall, their shells cracking daily? Do they put themselves back together again but come home to an empty shell?
I like to think Humpty Dumpty's story is different.
Most of us would judge him as fallen, broken, laid to waste in poverty, an outcast from creature comforts and human love.
But Humpty Dumpty's shell is a flimsy veneer. The truth could only ever be revealed in the cracks. The cracks are the thing. In them we glimpse the beauty in imperfection, the source of compassion in abject misery, the gift of joy in immeasurable sadness, love where there never was love.
And so I wonder, every time I see this homeless man, what it truly means to be dispossessed.
And I claim as my own the only thing no one can take away from me: love.
No matter how many times I fall, or my shell breaks open, I never feel empty. A little glue can mend the cracks. No big deal.
Thank you, beautiful imperfect Buddha, for teaching me this lesson every time I see you on that loud, dirty corner of U.S.1.