The windowsill in my apartment building…………
I found a receipt on it.
I was tempted to pick it up.
I did pick it up.
It was from Subway, the sandwich shop.
They got…..some kind of normal sandwich, whatever.
But you see……I was excited. I was glad.
Because I could see how deeply wanting to pick up that receipt was
linked to so many other things about being human.
People long to connect to the experiences of everyone else….but they’re also enticed by the distance between them and others. You could say that creating proper distance between you and others is part of the goal to connecting to someone else.
Picking up a receipt is a way of feeling closer to a stranger, but it feels pretty dignified, because only by peering into someone’s dreams can find out how to please them.
The desire to peer into someone else’s life is such a violation of their privacy. Picking up a receipt is a very minor version of that. But because it’s so innocent, so unlikely to cause harm or even actually be “private snooping” that it feels so much like an intrusion.
Learning someone’s secrets makes you feel powerful and also like you’re increasing your empathy. That’s why it’s so hard to keep people from interfering with other people. That’s why trying to be nice to your family is such a struggle- you always have to be interfering.
People ache to feel like the empathic one. The one who relates, the one who feels. The one who can manipulate others and themselves toward some kind of benevolent goal. The one who can adapt to someone else’s dreams and be truly worth appreciating.
That heat is at the core of why a person would pick up a stranger’s receipt. Why it feels out of place……why it feels so very appropriate.
Because only by causing others some degree of discomfort and anger can we get them to become more agreeable and adaptable.
You have to be a little ashamed to do anything to glow with joy about what you did.
Looking at someone’s receipt, if they could catch you, is probably likely to either be very endearing, or fairly enraging.
I know if I caught someone else looking at a receipt I dropped, I’d probably have a raised eyebrow, partly aggravated, partly charmed that someone was willing to peer into a small piece of a life that happened to be mine.
Someone could be very glad to see that happen, that someone else would care, just barely enough, and greatly enough, to look at a marker of their recent past. That through curiosity and boredom, something they did, so innocently, could become someone else’s amusement. That they, through their dream of the possibility of becoming closer to someone else, though, intrusively, were inspired to pick up a likely useless shred of paper off the floor.
They could even find it endearing that their preference for bought items was exposed to someone else.
A different person could be
infuriated at someone nabbing their lost receipt, even for something innocuous as buying a sandwich. Yes, there was no intention at targeting you specifically, and anyone could be the “victim”. Yes, the piece of paper might not have any function for its finder. Yes, it’s your fault for losing it rather than keeping it in your pocket.
But your eyes could still turn red with rage at someone looking at it. And why is that?
Because people are always acting as though it’s not you they’re trying to affect when they’re trying to get you to do things their way.
And you know it’s wrong to accuse people of trying to learn your secrets, or criticize your experiences, when they are only stumbling upon a remnant of your recent past.
And you know that you wouldn’t necessarily try to intrude into someone else’s life for the sake of your own gain, unless you had a reason that felt valid.
Nobody is constantly trying to make other people’s lives about them. Nobody is trying to cheat or swindle everyone.
It would make certain people feel angry to see someone touch their receipt, because of just how disconnected-acting that intrusion is.
But other people might be willing to use such a situation in a better way.
Some people are on a higher level, in touch with their own rage, knowing how to utilize it, knowing how to provoke others for the sake of a pleasant dream.
Those people are hustlers.
They are the types who are willing to ensnare people in
accusations they know are barely justified, not for a feeling of justice, but for the sake of living in a way that feels productive and classy.
And it’s a lack of emotional awareness in normal, non-stealing people, which leads to not only the unfixable blight of already-can-afford-to-eat thievery, but also,
those few of us knaves making a shame-free living out of fucking with other people’s hopes and dreams.
It’s wrong to blame the common people for the work of rogues….but I believe that as things are, the common people are not doing what they can to make those rogues not ecstatic to steal your stuff.
We get seem to get completely mad or happy with an odd use of political power, and have yet to figure out how to keep corrupt politicians from doing what they have.
Pilferers, shoplifters, bank robbers, white collar criminals……they don’t feel evil. Why is this?
Because they’ve overcome their own anger at people possibly maybe trying to take things from them.
What allows this disgrace to exist is the empathy they have not only for desperate accusations, but conniving false ones.
True hustlers can expect someone kind of sort of trying to get up in their business,
and knowing they might have a good reason for that, or that they really might not. They’ll smile at you, because they have gotten past the point of dismay at anyone turning out to be kind of a major fuckface, or actually very noble.
Those who steal don’t merely operate on self interest or exhaustion with moralistic suggestions.
Nor is it that they respect those who shove others into a pile of dirt with only vaguely good justifications.
They know that other people are always counting on the possibility of
tricking people into thinking they’re not doing what they actually have been doing.
That everyone is always just a bit of a hustler, an abject blamer, an unwanted praise giver, in a way that’s silly, but useful, and strangely not ugly.
The person who steals the candy bar…..sees the world as a game based upon acting like you’re not already taking things based from other people.
The person who nabs millions of dollars of museum artifacts can sense that the museum is itself, some kind of thief who acts much better.
Anyone who takes something that doesn’t belong to them can use it in a way that might shock the person whose materials have just been stolen.
Money, gifts, treasures, all of these things can be converted to experiences that could hardly be described as malicious.
A thief has the power to overcome their own guilt, to get beyond others constantly wanting to conform to them, to do something good for themselves which others claim couldn’t possibly possess a shred of dignity.
But dignity comes from the desire to create possibilities, in spite of how fragmented everything is.
Nobody can be quite connected to their ethics, none can be linked to their wishes for anything.
People can never be purely characterized as anything, nobody can really be said to be responsible for anything. The world has far too many vaguely linked will floating around.
But you also can’t really escape that either. People know that they are guilty, that they’ve done wrong, that it’s foolish to claim to responsibility. That causes and affects ain’t being split. That heroes of justice really are heroes of justice, and that those longing to uphold that justice are totally being fair.
But we look at those vile robbers, of things, of dreams, of happiness, even of life, as though they couldn’t possibly be doing anything truly worth giving credit for.
The worst criminals feel, “I AM MAKING SHIT HAPPEN” and “I DO NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT MYSELF” and go on doing what they do, because we give ourselves positive feedback for similar misdeeds. Or rather, we are not condemning them in a way that feels like anywhere near adequate.
Even thieves know how to be gentle and adaptable with someone they’re not stealing from, or even the people who they are taking from.
Everyone steps around the unjust accusations of others.
I wish for nobody to take what isn’t theirs. I fantasize about peace and love and kindness like you do.
But this day can only come when we see that “deserving what you own” itself
is a belligerent game that inspires so much confident breaking of rules.
Everyone is a bit of a rogue, innovating self-interest as well as the lack of barbarity in it.
Adapting to situations, having the power to remain inspired despite others’ resentment, and risking so much just to get by the constraints of how society wants your destiny to play out- that is what makes a great hustler feel like the highest form of human being.
The type of person that needs taken down a peg, while wistful weirdos who just want the hustling to stop…..can stop fucking around and be good at leading even the most socially competent swindlers.
The power to reach bizarrely attainable goals, and the power to feel like your closeness to others is enhanced, rather than violated by causing anyone sore frustration, the ability to feel so attached from ordinary and common kindness while finding your own way to validate the goal of BEING NICE,
that is the power of humans, that is what needs to be reigned in for progress to happen on Earth.
My fierce desire is to crush the heart of people who feel like they’re blossoming with warm rainbows of love when
gently and stylishly exploiting the ever mega loving fuck
out of the desires and expectations of other people who are more “I just want to be a good person” types.
And have them regenerate under the banner of “I will not be a cosmic hustler”.
Not that anyone isn’t a hustler.
If you could just understand what it means to want to pick a up a receipt, less people would want to rob a fucking bank.
We could all just be inspired by proper but creative closeness to others rather than elegantly improper exploitation of anyone.
And that’s….my dream for civilization.
For us to be disconnected and connected from our actions in just the right way to get shit done, without our eyes glowing with transcendent triumph.
Or you could just throw your receipt away and see what happens.