This song popped into my head one day a while back. Walking past some morning glory flowers brought the memory of the song back. It’s lyrics recall a real encounter Nilsson had with a woman in a doorway. She’d fallen upon some difficult times and he gave her money.
The song has become a visitor on a weekly basis now on my drive to work. On Mondays I’ve been seeing a homeless man with a sign. He braves a very busy intersection asking for help. His walk goes largely unnoticed or so it seems to me. Because I’m usually in a farther away lane I seemingly avoid the solicitation. But I don’t stop thinking of him. Of how absolutely showered I am with blessings in my life. Of the guilt I feel that his life seems too difficult and different. That there are hundreds more like him in a country where we throw food, clothing and other necessities away like trash. Where stores tear up clothing; so no one can profit from their cast offs and toss it in locked dumpsters. Why is this more important than need?
Many have and will write more eloquently than I can begin to about the poverty that so many people endure. My words feel inadequate. How did others get to that place? How did I get so lucky? How long does bad luck last? What did I do in another life that I landed here, with a loving spouse, beautiful family, a warm home with plenty to eat and more than enough of everything?
What happened to this man? Did he have family? Does he now? Who is there to help him? What happened? I have no answers and hurry along to work.
I read the Nilsson biography by Alyn Shipton earlier this year. (http://www.harrynilsson.com/bio/) Perhaps that is partly the reason his work flits in and out of my head. It seems he succumbed to a similar fate as the subject of this song. Amazingly talented, unable to rise above personal demons and some truly devastating experiences can so easily cause the human spirit to die on the vine. Each of us has at least some moment of feeling like we are in the doorway, “wondering how we (she) ever got that way.”