I met Woodie today on a busy street corner in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I’ve seen him before but never gave him anything, and tried not to look at him when sitting at the traffic light.
Watching him standing there in the rain with his homeless sign, I decided to stop this time. I introduced myself, gave him money for lunch, and asked if I could take a photo. I didn’t ask him his life story because it’s none of my business.
I read an article a while back that the Lancaster City Council was considering an ordinance that would ban panhandling. City merchants also petitioned the city to do something about it, they say it makes customers uncomfortable and chases away business.
“When people give money on the street, it makes the panhandling problem worse,” Dan Jurman, chairman of the Mayor’s Commission to Combat Poverty told the Lancaster Newspaper.
The article went on to say: “There’s also the valid argument that in many cases, cash given to a panhandler amounts to nothing more than a quick drug fix.”
Woodie told me he was hungry, if he gets a beer or two with lunch, or a bottle instead of lunch I have no problem with that. A man is asking for help and I decided to give what I could.
“Your job is not to judge. Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something. Your job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, and to heal the hurting.” Joel Osteen
It’s been said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity. But it’s also been said that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
So I was at Walmart this morning and I remembered a photo I took of a horse and buggy back in early March (Overexposed at Walmart). I had overexposed it accidentally but decided the result was “more interesting than all the other shots that have histograms like the Himalayas.”
There he was, the exact same horse and buggy in the exact same spot (the horse knows the way) so I shot him. And again I overexposed but purposely this time, converted to black and white and called it art.
I did the same thing slightly differently and expected the same results, so this is either a variation of insanity, madness or a combination of both. According to one definition, insanity is the state of being insane while madness is the state of being mad. Oh.
In his Pulitzer Prize winning book The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker wrote: “The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.”
I’ve been to the madhouse and although I didn’t bring my camera, the photographic possibilities were endless. Maybe next time.
Willoughby? Maybe its wishful thinking nestled in a hidden part of a man’s mind, or maybe it’s the last stop in the vast design of things.
Or perhaps, for a man like Mr. Gart Williams, who climbed on a world that went by too fast, it’s a place around the bend where he could jump off. Willoughby? Whatever it is, it comes with sunlight and serenity, and is a part of The Twilight Zone.