Thursday, June 02, 2005

Everybody in Seattle...

If you live in Seattle and are ever downtown during the day, then you know this guy. He's been standing there, shouting at buses and cars most days since he was kicked out of his residence in the Frye Apartments, a subsidized housing development in Seattle. His name is Juan, he's mentally ill, and he's incredibly persistent. It's not just that he's been there at the same location, 6th and Pine, in Seattle, day after day, for years now. It's that his determination is unshakeable. He shouts the same message to whatever unfortunate vehicle happens to get stopped at the corner when the light changes. It sounds something like this:

" Seattle! Outsidah! Ah pee-po! Below below! The Seattle Police, they're COM-munist!"

It's like Starbucks or McDonalds: when you see one, you know what you're going to get. Each repetition every day every year has been exactly the same, the meter and rhythm, the intonation. I was once riding a bus and the bus-driver pulled up and at the light and repeated Juan's rant right along with him (We all chuckled, which inspired a woman sitting on the bus to say indignantly, "That man is braver than any of you people." Which I can't disagree with. But it was still kind of funny).

I've wondered what the world looks like out of the eyes of..insert your own musings on the nature of mental illness here. Consider the way in which we deal with it in our society, on a socio-scientific and spiritual level. Tie in the effect of the conservative hack-job of social welfare that was performed by Ronald Reagan in the 80's and how he literally and figuratively created "the homeless." I would have done this for you, but it's time you stopped drafting in my wake and held your own for awhile. Also, I'm lazy. Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled program....with the chicken and five yards of surgical tubing. It's truly a profound lesson about interconnectedness and the true nature of being.

I ride the bus through downtown to work in the morning, which is usually when I see Juan. I'd been away for a while, so yesterday morning was the first time I saw him for awhile. He's still there with the same sign, but all of sudden, he's mixing it up: "Below-below! Below-below! Everybody in Seattle! Everybody! Everybody! Ah peepo! Ah peepo! Below-below! Below-below!" It's like suddenly something shifted and he found a new rhythm. He's singing a different tune. He's downloaded and installed the latest security patch. He's made some new playlists for the iPod (no, no, wait...this is going to get funny any second now). It wasn't a big cosmic shift or nothing, but it was enough to move the otherwise intrasigent and immovable, just a little bit. Big change is afoot, I tell you what.

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