“Life Is Funny”
By Priya Joshi
Sometimes, on a sunny, cool winter morning, while I walk around the Angel Fountain in Central Park, I become overwhelmed with sadness. Sometimes, on a beautiful summer afternoon with the most vibrant sunrays that I’ve felt in years streaming down my back, without a care in the world and only happiness ahead, I fall to my knees and cry so hard I have to stop and breathe. It’s just that sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I can’t shake the thought that all of the beauty around me is dwarfed by all of the madness.
I throw up every time I think about it. If you take all of the sick, repugnant, horrifically unspeakable things about society and roll it into a tight, hot mess and try to swallow it, that’s how I feel every time I think about it.
I picture a man on a December day. I picture him walking his dog through a park in Queens, N.Y., the grey winter light reflecting off his eyes and illuminating his smile. I picture him softly saying, “bless you” to a complete stranger as they sneeze into their rabbit fur mittens. I picture him as a child, walking to PS 116, stopping for a moment to give his milk money to the bum on the corner.
This man, this honest, hard-working, caring and contributing member of our society, who is a constant visitor to many Queens neighborhoods, has ruined more lives than he’ll ever know, and it’s all because of me. This working-class, father-of-the-year, giving individual has been a pawn on my chessboard for a decade.
For years this man has set his alarm for 4 a.m., gone out in the cold, rain, sleet in winter, and the unbearable heat in summer to deliver to me, my friends, my cronies, my clients and their mothers our packages of goodies. Never once did this honest, hard-working, caring, working-class father-of-the-year suspect that he was feeding the mouths, veins, noses and causes for each, and every sick addiction you could imagine.
Never once did he think as he drove his delivery truck that these simple, small brown packages he delivered to the sweet, young couple on 36th street contained enough morphine to kill a horse. Never once did it cross his mind that the innocent, always friendly residents of 45th Street and 30th Avenue were truly the ghouls and goblins that he spent his life trying not to become.
The funny thing is, no matter how many times a day you shower, and no matter how many good deeds you do, or how many sneezing strangers you give a sincere “bless you” to, you can never completely wash your hands clean of the scum from the underbelly of what we call our Great American Society. No matter how many anti-war protests you attend, people still die. No matter how many drug-addled youths sober up, there is still a kid passed out on the cold tile in a halfway house with a syringe a quarter of the way into his vein.
The funny thing about life is -- ignorance is bliss after all.
Priya Joshi won Honorable Mention in the 2008 Mortimer Levitt Essay Contest for Marymount Manhattan College students.