- a) a man unicycling down the main road (yes, really)
- b) a man with dreadlocks the reached below his knees (yes, really. Interestingly, his calf muscles were really well developed. Was this from carting around such a cumbersome load, I wonder?)
- c) a man walking - no, walking is too tame a term - marching down the road, cursing and f-ing and blinding loudly enough to be heard a good 25 metres away.
It's man c) that particularly interests me this evening, although I'm sure that in Brighton it's also possible to see a man with hugely long and fat dreadlocks cycling dangerously along on a unicycle whilst screaming about the North Americans.
The man was shouting and cursing, in a filthy rage, not at anyone in particular, but at some unseen enemy who was perhaps arguing back. He struck me immediately as one of Brighton's mentally unwell inhabitants. As I walked past the man, I saw a group of four or five young lads who had stopped and were all staring after him, confirming that I wasn't alone in this judgement. The whole human swarm that populated the pavement parted like the Red Sea as he approached. I stayed glued to my pathway, reminding myself that I was safe, and indeed I was.
As I walked past the group of young guys staring after this poor bloke, I realized that the only difference between the 'crazy' man and all the rest of us was that the crazy guy was saying all his attack thoughts out loud.
Stop and think about it for a moment. How many thoughts of judgement do I have every single day? Thousands and thousands. Sometimes they're fleeting, like seeing a girl in the street with big boobs or long legs and wishing, just for a second, that I could look like her, that it's not fair. If that's not an attack on myself and my sister, I don't know what is.
And then there are the more prolonged, more pervasive thoughts, the ones that really get into the cracks and under my skin. The ongoing judgements of my mum. Jealousy in the relationship I'm in with Nige. Years of comparison with my sisters.
What sets me apart from the man on the street in Brighton was that I don't stomp down the street giving 100% of my energy to articulating these thoughts. In a way, I think that what the vast majority of us humans do - stifle it, squash it, try to hide it from everyone else so that they don't think we're crazy, so that they don't judge us - is crazier than the crazy man!
I think it was the Dalai Lama who said that if you took all of the thoughts of a group of people, put them on little scraps of paper and piled them one on top of the other, you'd end up with a mountain of attack thoughts that equalled Adolf Hitler in venom and hate.
There's no point in me pretending that I'm different to the man on the street. He, like everyone I meet, is simply a reflection of myself. And his anger, like mine, simply masks the undying, undeniable call for Love that lies beneath it.
Which voice do I choose to listen to today? The voice screaming about the Americans, or the little boy (or girl) who just wants to know that they're enough, loveable and safe?
I'll take the second voice please. I might not be able to help the man in a visible way, but as soon as I see his innocence, I have remembered the truth.
And the truth is that, "I am as God created me", and always, always will be.