You know about Larry. He's a street person from Vancouver who I introduced you to in an article entitled 'Larry the Poetry on the Spot Guy'. He has taken up residence on a nearby street corner in an eclectic neighbourhood where I live, in the inner city enclave of Osborne Village, Winnipeg, Canada.
I visited him there again. This time I got a strong sense of how out of synch his situation is with life's mainstream.
I couldn't help it. The weather was nicer, the streets swarming with fresh-faced laughing young people rushing by Larry's wheelchair to get to a favorite restaurant, neighborhood bar or shop.
Larry's duct-taped jacket was wide open, with an assortment of fanny packs and other paraphernalia bursting out of it.
The wind didn't seem as cold. We had another burst of mid-west sunshine, but as I looked to the west, I realized the shadows were lengthening fast and the sun's warmth was disappearing.
Larry's legs seemed thinner than the day before. I realized that they may be prosthetics. I notice that his hands are dark with grime, less elegant than a couple days ago.
I don't want to invade his privacy, but I ask him about family...if he has any...Easter weekend is approaching, I hear a nearby couple talking about a family dinner they're planning.
It seems a discussion that is miles away from Larry's life.
Family is truly a painful subject for Larry. His eyes take on an edgy look, wary and uncertain. 'Yeah...they're around...'
I realize I misread his tattered street sign the other day. It reads: Poems on the Spot...not Poetry on the Spot. I have a feeling he would like me to get that right.
He asks me to pick a subject and he'll write another poem. I'm curious now to know his take on something everyone seems to be chasing after quite easily around him, but which seems to be so incredibly distant from his own lot in life...
I ask him to write about happiness.
I want to know what it will tell me about himself...and about his view of life and people and a world reaching out for it...but painfully, it is something that seems to have passed him by.
I sense he is unperturbed, eager to write...Writing is his voice...
But it doesn't come as easy as the poem he wrote for me about faith...There are delays...He has to think this one through...
So I give him time and go to pick up a coffee for him nearby...black...no...with milk, but no sweetener...sweetners don't mix well with some of the food he eats, he tells me. I ask if he has food and he says he does...and where he stays...?...I ask about that too, but he is vague, evasive...and head bent low, begins writing...
People are happiest when their internal critic
has the least to say.
Regardless of political or religious ideology
It is hard to be happy
When in conflict with what you hold true.
And when you are happy it is easy to lose it
When you run into conflict with yourself.
A clear conscience is a big help for happiness.
It's kind of like being joyful in all things.
Or like knowing the peace that passes understanding.
So when people seem happy...
If it is a happiness that comes from something
Which robs others of personal safety
It is at best a temporary high, not happiness.
As soon as happiness is at someone else's expense
And you're back on the merry-go-round until you get off
Or get both feet back on the ground.
But the peace which passes understanding is not like this.
It is what alone makes it possible to be joyful.
To be joyful in any circumstance.
And when you are free to express yourself
It is then that the voice of conscience speaks
only happiness and healing.
So the happiness we really seek
Is a humble and contrite spirit
Which God will not despise.
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