Back in my younger years I had some friends who were aspiring wannabe actors, musicians and performers. They had big dreams of seeing their faces up on the silver screen, on TV and or spotlighted in major concerts. Meanwhile they worked at whatever odd jobs that came along - laborers, movers or restaurant work.
They knew this was just temporary; a few dollars to survive here and now. But they were sure they were destined to be stars. They constantly handed out their photos, (head shots), to agents, studios and managers. “Hey I’m the new up and coming kid. I’m a live wire. I’m destined for greatness. Have you seen me?”
On the back of milk cartons you can see their faces. They are cute little kids and sometimes mentally handicapped adults. They have gone missing. Their parents and families are desperately searching for them. You don’t know them but their faces haunt you. You can almost hear them cry out from far away. “Have you seen me?”
She looks in her mirror as she puts on her makeup; lipstick, eyeliner and mascara. She looks again. “Stunning”, she says to herself, “Simply stunning!”. She snaps a picture of her beautiful face and posts it on Facebook. She chats with her friends on her iphone as she sends and receives texts. “I was at the club last night. It was fabulous. Oh yes, I just posted it. You must see me”
A man in his fifties, (or maybe his sixties), stands at the freeway offramp. His clothes are old and his shoes are worn. The lines on his face and his far away look seem to reveal his story. Its a story of hardship and misfortune. Its the damage done through many years by drugs and alcohol. Its a story of loss of friends, family and a wasted life. He is holding a sign that reads: “Homeless vet. Please help. God bless”.
You catch his glancing gaze as you drive on by and you suddenly receive a mental message: “Hey I’m somebody. I could be your uncle, cousin or brother. I could have been your comrade in arms. Don’t just ignore and pass me by. Can’t you see me?.”
A prisoner sits in his cell and bides his time. Its an eternity. Like a caged animal he is motionless and frozen in space and time.His jailers constantly repeat that he has no rights, no privileges, no liberties. Now that he no longer has it, he knows for sure that freedom is the world’s most precious commodity. He sleeps for a while and dreams of soaring the skies and swimming in the wide blue ocean. Then he awakes to find himself still stuck in the same trap made of cold concrete and steel. The letters he sent off to family, old friends and attorneys go unanswered. Still he waits in vain for any word from the outside world. “I’m here. Its me. You know me. You’ve seen me.”
Ragged people walk the streets. They seek shelter in doorways and they sleep under bridges. Homeless, helpless, lost and forgotten; they constantly talk to and argue with entities in other universes real only to them. They smell bad. They litter and look unsightly and disorderly in an otherwise orderly society. But this society has no solution, no idea on what to do with them. Cops try to chase them away. Good intentioned people try to help them. But like frightened animals, they just shy away. They are fearful of all help and contact. You must have seen them.
She looks so much like your grandma. She could be your grandma. She sits quietly, motionless in her wheelchair and stares blankly off into space. Her attendant comes in to change her and make up her bed. “How are you today sweetie?”.... No response. The light in her eyes is no more. She is too far gone to ask: “Can you see me?.
As you pass the cemetery you see the headstones. If you look closer you’ll notice each bears inscriptions and a few short lines of facts and figures. They are like voices from the beyond. “I was here from this date to this. I was somebody. I had a life and a family. Perhaps you knew me. Our paths may have crossed. Have you seen me?.”
Communication I suppose could be looked at as a lifeline connection between two beings, an acknowledgment of one’s existence. There’s quite a variety of words in different langues to express greetings. There’ s hello, hola, bonjour, shalom, aloha, etc.
There is one in particular that I like. Its one African tribe’s word for hello. Translated into English its simply: “I see you”.
Dan O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org