Words of a stranger

The stranger was ignored by all. They would give small change and food out of pity, even though he never asked for anything. The man had seen the stranger for decades, wandering the streets in dirty shabby clothing with a limp in his stride. The stranger was nearly always in conversation with himself, yet very rarely spoke to others. The stranger sat in the shade of the large acorn tree, giving his troublesome foot a rest. Even sitting alone he was deep in conversation with himself mumbling words, which to others, seemed unintelligent.

The man walked past the homeless stranger, giving him a smile and a nod. As the man walked by, the stranger unexpectedly spoke at the man, “Do you know what I think is wrong with the world?” queried the homeless stranger. “People have allowed their environment to dictate their personalities, instead of discovering themselves and developing their own personalities and through this slow process, eventually creating an environment suitable to their personalities. Most people have no idea who or what they are.”

“Interesting.” said the man with surprise. Never before has the homeless man stopped him, not for money and certainly not for conversation. “What about in your case?” asked the man. “Does your environment not affect and dictate your personality?”

“Yes, but I spent many years discovering myself – who I was, who and what I wanted to be and who and what I didn’t want to be. I decided I wanted to be free. I know who I am. Many see me as a homeless bum, but I never beg for charity. I walk the streets of the city, like a ghost. I see people for who they are. I see how they treat one another and speak to each other and much of the time I don’t like it. I prefer holding conversation with myself. I see the poison that spews from some people’s mouths and how it infects others, I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to live everyday a slave to work earning a concept that has no meaning in man’s survival. I decided years ago to remove myself from society, because I saw the direction society was taking. I now live free, free from the baggage of material possession. Free from useless fads that are alive no longer than a blink of an eye. My only concern is living, because I know who I am.”

The homeless stranger got to his feet and looked at the man. Although his clothes were dirty and he smelled, his eyes radiated an intelligence the man didn’t see too often, even among his educated colleagues. “Don’t let your environment dictate the person you are. Know who you are and dictate your environment and what elements surround you.” said the stranger with a smile.  He turned his back and continued to talk to himself as he limped away. The man stood in the middle of the road and watched as the stranger took to the streets once again talking gibberish to himself and wondered if the stranger was as crazy as people perceived him to be.

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