My Confession

by: Daniel Dissinger

This post will be part confession, part moving thought, part commentary.  It comes into its formation from something which happened to me…  Actually, it’s the result of something I failed to do this weekend.  Let me set the scene:

I’m walking with my girlfriend towards the subway entrance at Union Square.  It was Saturday, 1 in the morning, and we had just left the movie theater.  Crossing the street, my girlfriend noticed a book in the middle of the street.  She turned to me and said…

“Look, there’s a book in the street.  Do you wanna get it?”

I say…

“Umm…  Nah, it’s okay.”

All of a sudden, a concerned citizen, some unsuspecting man, perhaps triggered by my apathy for this poor piece of literature, runs into the street and grabs the book, saving it from so many taxi tires.

My girlfriend and I watch this happen, she with empathetic wonder, and me with apathetic disinterest.  She strikes up a conversation with him, which I only hear fragments of…

“…Ancient Greek…”

 “Maybe it’s destiny…  I should read it”

 “There are notes in it.  …We’re both writers”

 And we enter the subway.

 Even now, as I am writing this down, it’s hard to believe I acted the way I did, not only having a total disregard for the book, but disregard/disrespect for this concerned CITIZEN.  The whole ride home, my girlfriend talked to me about how surprised she was that I didn’t, 1) Get the book out of the street, and 2) That I didn’t ENGAGE in some sort of friendly conversation with this CITIZEN, that I did not acknowledge this blatant act of consideration.

“Why didn’t you just acknowledge his existence?”

I had, and even now, still don’t have an answer.


I am ashamed of my behavior, both as a CITIZEN and a WRITER.  I will never get another chance to get to know this book.  Maybe this book was going to be the greatest book I would have ever read!  I will never know.  I will never get that chance.  It is a lost moment, and I stupidly let it pass me by.

It’s not just that; in a time when the importance of objects, collections, and a TANGIBLE REMINDER OF HUMAN EXISTENCE are more than quickly being removed from the very act of creating memories/history, my decision to do nothing, to let the book sit in the street, makes me part of the problem.

I also let an opportunity to ENGAGE with another human being, a person who actually shares at least one common interest with me—books.  Perhaps this person could have become an important friend, an individual that could have had a positive influence over my work as a poet and a teacher.  This CITIZEN could have been anyone!  They could have helped move all my dreams forward, and I could have possibly been a positive influence on him, or maybe it could have just been a fun little story about a man who saved a book from an inevitable New York death.

I stopped a real HUMAN-to-HUMAN interaction from happening.

I continued the ever growing fissures between people.


I was a part-time CITIZEN, a part-time poet, a part-time educator; I blocked out all of my active instinctual motivation as these above SPACES; I ignored all the magical intuition of this crazy universe and decided to DISENGAGE from the fabric of CITIZENSHIP.  The consequences, I will really never know them, but I will also never know the outcome of simply moving towards the book, picking it up, and feeling all its wonder in the creased-aged pages.  I will never have the chance to introduce myself, hear the name of this book’s savior, understand his story, where he comes from, where he’s going, what his dreams are, why he saved this book; I will never know!


If this CITIZEN somehow reads this, I want to apologize for not being PRESENT, for not acknowledging his existence, for blocking all the energy of this coincidence.  I was ignorant.

I must be PRESENT; we all must be PRESENT in this fragile existence.  Wondrous odd moments collide in front of us every day and most of us never notice.  Our bodies are plugged into so many distractions that we’ve violently limited our ability to SEE/ENGAGE the world; we’ve established a level of debilitating self-importance which exceeds our ability to create CONVERSATION.  We have to listen closely to what the world is telling us, how it touches our bodies, what it tastes like when it rains and snows, how it looks laying closely next to you, naked, vulnerable, inviting; we must be willing to WONDER again.

I must be willing to WONDER.

I promise to WONDER.





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