I arrived at 8:30 and there was already a line of 30 plus people forming a U in front of the Social Security office that doesn't open till 9. Some of those folks had probably been there since 7 and all because we are required to have a series of nine digits attached to our names. Even with the internet, you must show up in person for most cases so as to avoid fraud. The irony being that the government has committed the biggest theft from the fund of any member in the organization.
Another ten minutes pass as I sporadically chatted with the woman in front of me. The line is now growing behind us. Our conversation is in bursts like morse code, as it is many times with people you don't know. Shoot out a packet of thought, the subtext being "are you willing to talk and do we have common ground?" I enjoy engaging random folks from time to time because it gives me an opportunity to see how another individual thinks. It can blow up in your face though, like when you find out they are incredibly racist and equally as vocal. The good thing is I don't know them so if I tell them that I disagree I have little regard for any offense they may take.
Discovering someone else's perspective on life is fairly easy (or at least the perspective they are trying to convince the world and themselves of) when you are strangers. Just listen for a few minutes as it flows out of their lips. Our discussion mostly centered on the police, tickets and government bullshit. We both had a bad taste in our mouth from dealing with the system but I became instantly aware of a difference between us when she described having to change her drivers license twice in six months because her apartment was being remodeled forcing a temporary move. I commented that I probably would have just ignored it to which she matter-of-factly replied "well you know when they pull you over, you better have the address correct or you'll get a ticket." She stated it like getting pulled over and ticketed was the ever present reality. I realized that despite having some common ground, our experience of life and view of the world were divergent. It's a pretty safe bet to say that a it probably has a good bit to do with being a white guy driving a mini-van that is only a few years old.
As our conversation waned, I thought "what is the entire scene before me saying?" People standing in line at a government office usually are dealing with some kind of struggle in their life. The aggregate of humanity in front of me seemed no different. I was acutely aware that my visit involved leaving the past behind while most patrons were there trying to survive the future. Sharing the hallway with the SSA in the mini-mall was a storefront church and a dialysis center. All three establishments dedicated to helping people eek out an existence but providing little hope (except the church which mainlines visitors with promises of Heaven).
Proper forms filed, I was about to drive off and saw a sign in the parking lot to vote early for the presidential primaries. "I can do it later." I thought followed by "not that it really matters". I'm accosted everywhere by suffering, misery, hopelessness and want to do something so I paused. I write and talk about what I see and think but who am I to say anything if I don't even vote? Filling out the form to cast a ballot, I felt some hope arise. Does my vote count? Who knows, but taking action can effect your mind. I felt a little less powerless as I stood there staring at the screen confirming my vote for Bernie Sanders. If you want change you must do something more than just talk. You can dissuade yourself from action by saying "my little effort doesn't matter" but even a small drip can wear away a rock over time. If you can only be a drip now, be a drip but picture yourself as the ocean with waves so powerful that they carry boulders about like feathers. We become what we focus on. Motivational speaker and author of Think and Grow Right, Napoleon Hill said that the specifics of your plan aren't so important - what's important is having a plan. A plan gives you a destination and preliminary heading to focus on. The intermediary details are unimportant because even if you take a wrong turn, you can always correct and still be gaining on the objective.
Words without action are like letting the air out of a balloon while holding onto it. It might squawk a lot but that's it. If you let go at the onset, it will fly off making loops and sputtering till it runs out of air. Keep talking and keep moving. Don't be afraid to course correct along the way or be dismayed if blown off course. Sometimes when, on reaching the destination, you discover it's just a stopping point on the way to show you another journey before unimagined. With an open mind keep a steady hand on the helm, drop canvas and let the wind drive you where it may.