Last night, one of my husband’s friends made a status update on Facebook, in which he told the story of his interaction with a homeless person the other day. He was walking down the street with headphones in his ears, listening to his iPod, when he was approached by a homeless guy who asked him what he was listening to. He let the homeless guy listen to his music for a bit and then they spoke for a few minutes. The homeless man mentioned that one of the things he missed most was music, and asked to listen to one more song before they went their separate ways. As he listened to the song, he began to tear up, and then handed the headphones back to my husband’s friend.
I’ve thought about not having access to music all the time due to disability, I’ve even thought about the idea of being born far in the past and not having access to various recordings of music, and I’ve mourned the fact that I’ll die someday and miss out on all the great things that humans will create in the future. When we think of the issue of homelessness, it seems like a big focus is on practicalities, and fair enough. But I never thought about how it must be to lose the more aesthetic aspects of life that bring so much value, almost without us realizing it.
Empathy doesn’t do much to change the situations faced by thousands of people. It feels selfish and small to sit back and be grateful that I’m not in that position, and to suggest that people take a moment to listen to one of their favorite songs and appreciate being able to listen to it, but I’ll do it anyhow.
Here’s the song my husband’s friend played for the man, in case you’re curious: