Updated: Oct 12, 2021
I use these adjectives to describe my personal perspective. The blog below represents my personal opinions and take on what I personally witnessed.
Two days ago, I was on my electric bike commuting to work. My commute to work requires that I take the lower bridge from West Seattle to the Capitol Hill Seattle. My route includes the Coast Guard Facilities by the water and then shoots me out just past the football and baseball stadiums, prior to trekking up the mountain of South Jackson Street. And eventually, I arrive to work after a few more pushes up the next few hills.
During this biking experience, I ride by countless homeless camps consisting of tents, cardboard houses, and tarp homes. Two days ago, I crossed a woman that I had passed before; she is normally dressed in all black and doing her best to find something in her camp area. But two days ago, she was different.
As I rounded the corner, I saw this woman. The bottom half of her outfit was still black. As I approached on my bike, the smell hit me first. The smell was that of a can of aerosol paint. As my eyes focused more on what was in front of me, I noticed that the top portion of this woman was silver. When I say silver, I mean silver. Imagine a person from the Blue Man Group; but instead there is a silver person. The woman's hair was pointed straight and rigid with silver paint. I could just make out the eyes' of the woman that were blood red. She did not make eye contact with me; I don't think she even registered that I was about pass her.
The woman was huffing the silver can of aerosol...
I remember there was a huffing phase back when I was in middle or high school. I remember that folks were huffing CO2 cartridges and permanent markers. But this was not that. This woman was actually spraying the aerosol can directly into her nose while therefore painting herself in the process silver.
I am shocked. Mental health is not something that is readily in my sphere of understanding. I have so many questions... Is she aware of her outward appearance? Does she have someone in her circle that has the ability to provide a point of reference to her? What will be her reaction when she eventually makes it to a place that has a mirror that allows her to see herself? Is this a normal thing for her?
I am heartbroken. This was a new thing for me to witness. I've never witnessed or experienced any sort of drug use or drug abuse in this way. How can I sleep after seeing this? Is this about me at this moment? What can I do? Is there a way to do something while remaining safe? Do I have the ability or skillset to do anything?
I am crippled and paralyzed. I clearly have more questions than I do answers. I ask myself, what if my son and I were on a bike ride together and we passed this woman? How do I explain this scene to him? What do I say to my son to explain all that this issue consists of?
I don't share this reflection as a moment of judgement on this woman. I share this reflection as a moment for you and I to reflect. What things do we see or witness that are moments where others are in need but little thought is given towards empathy and understanding. This woman represents just one piece of the larger puzzle of all things that I can reflect on in Seattle. What can you reflect on in your life?
Again, I do not have the answers or solutions to what appears to be a problem. But, I am unsettled and thoughtful as I think about how to leave this world better than the way I found it. I am learning each and every day, it is not just about me and my world; it is about my purposeful duty to others.