I had my basement door kicked in a couple of days ago. Wrenched from my comfortable world, I spent Easter Sunday hovering in the rain while a handy-man friend of mine replaced the door. It was the third time in three years that I have had my house broken into. Oddly enough, i happened to see the fellow who did it wandering in a nearby neighbourhood with a a jacket that looked an awful lot like my tenant’s hanging off his head by the hood. I had just finished a leisurely cup of coffee with a friend. The thing is i recognized the fellow and was suspicious enough that i called my downstairs girl to tell her i’d seen a man with what looked like her coat. She assured me hers was at home and I carried on with my afternoon, only to receive a call about 40 minutes later from a hysterical girl who had come home to a splintered door and no coat. I went through the usual throws of anger, upset, etc but also a sense of relief because I KNEW WHO HAD DONE IT and therefor would be able to do something about it. That wasn’t the case though. Vancouver’s finest have better things to do, I suppose, than wander around transit stations looking for lost jackets. The officer informed me that since I hadn’t actually seen him break in i was out of luck. So why am i telling you this:
Here’s why. I drew some important perspectives from the experience. My anger and revenge urge gave way to a contemplative consideration of the millions of people who lack a safe, un-violated home. The millions of people who, despite knowing precisely who causes them sorrow and pain, are helpless to do anything about it. I just sat in the midst of the experience and connected with the shared human condition of homelessness, the lack of personal safety and security. I swept up the glass and put the apartment back in order. I am still mad, but the urge to put things right is more generous and “other” directed than perhaps it was before. As for how i will react when i see this thief again… I’ll let you know.