Riding my bicycle along Hollywood Boulevard today I saw him in the crowd - noticed him instantly. When we reached each other, I said hi and asked if he would mind if I took his photo. “You want my photo?” Yeah, I said. There’s nobody like you. “I know.” And he smiled for me -although his face was evidently destroyed by something- and his mouth reconstructed. I asked him what happened. “Shot,” he said. “Shot in the face.” He motioned a gun at close range being shot directly into his face. And you survived that? I asked. “No,” he said with a smile. “I’m dead.” I apologized for what was a stupid question, but it was hard to fathom - gun shot- close range - into his face. And he lived. So what happened? I asked. Was it an accident, or did someone mean to shoot you? “I did it myself. Tried to kill myself.” You did “Yeah.” Where? “Arizona.” Phoenix? “Tucson.” So tell me, how did it feel, after you shot yourself in the face - and you came to -and realized you were not dead? “Agony. The worst agony ever.” Man. “Yeah.” What kind of gun? “30-aught-six.” I was thunderstruck. I have met and photographed many people - who are featured in this stream - humans who have overcome amazing adversity. Lydia, who was burnt almost to death. Ray, whose eye was gone. Margaret, who weighed over 500 pounds. But this. Man. And yet he was smiling. I told him what I thought: God gives everyone a different life - and some people get really really hard lives. “That’s me. Doesn’t get much worse.” Told me he’s on the street. Homeless. I asked him how bad it was that he wanted to die. “Bad. Really bad. The worse kind.” Are you gonna try again? “No. I tried once. That’s enough.” Man. Sometimes our lives seem hard - unbearable even - but then we meet Kevin. Or Lydia. Or Ray. And realize again how lucky we are. How hard some humans have it. Man. And yet he smiled. He smiled for me. This man with his face blown off - by his own hand. And here he is - in the sunshine, listening to music, smiling. I don’t even know what else to say about this.
my heart. it just exploded.