Thursday, January 2, 2020

How We Perceive

Two summers ago I witnessed one of those little events that puts one's perspective in perspective.

As I stood at an intersection here in downtown Toronto, waiting for the signal lights to change so I could cross the street, a young man stepped to my right. The amber light fired up and just to my right a small pile of paperback books crashed to the ground, were thrown to the ground with some force. The guy, now I could see that he was a robust and good-looking young buck, dashed off into the intersection and said emphatically with a touch of discernible self pity: "I hate life!"

His sling-shot of a dash concerned me but I then noticed that the automobile traffic had rolled to a stop. Then I started thinking. I found it interesting how we judge people, and their mental states, by how they look. It makes more sense to us for some reason that a man or woman who is suffering from "mental illness" must somehow look the part. Someone who's obviously "down and out" ticks the first check box. Really?

Young people who hit the street do so for a multitude of possible reasons. While mental illness could be a reason, often it's the check box denoting "Unfortunate Event". The young man in my story looked as though he would be right at home in a loving home, and on weekends, armed with his trendy up-combed hair, could be hitting the music acts in downtown Toronto.

I hope he's okay....


The above first appeared as "The Books Drop" on March 29, 2017.

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