Next is the Magic Mirror Gate. Atreyu will have to look his true self in the face.

So? That shouldn’t be so hard.

Oh, that’s what everyone thinks! But kind people find out that they are cruel. Brave men find out that they are really cowards! Confronted by their true selves, most men run away, screaming!

Paulina and I walked past a homeless person yesterday, outside Hoxton station. He was asking for… something. I’m not even sure what. Like we often do in this city, I blanked him, almost, it felt, out of self defence against what I perceive as an overwhelming tide of wrongness that he represented to my subconscious.

As I walked away, my thoughts evolved through a few stages. First, I felt sad at his suffering, and guilty for having blanked him. Then, I felt angry at the way this city is so full of utterly unnecessary misery. We have more than enough wealth in the U.K. and in London to take care of everyone so no one has to sleep on the street. Then, I felt angry at the hypocrisy of this system we live in, that preaches its high virtues around the world and yet leaves people sleeping on the street on a cold January night and sells weapons to Saudi Arabia to kill children with.

Finally I landed on the more painful truth: this hypocrisy is also my own. I felt repelled by this homeless person because he reflected my own, powerless hypocrisy to me. I am part of that system. I benefit from it. It treats me well.

I am not doing “nothing” to change it, but the fact remains that I have a comfortable place (however much I may feel like I worked for and earned it) in this system that treats people in a way that I find unconscionable. And despite my efforts in changing things via my business, by creating a more conscious organisation, it feels like there is an ocean of work to be done and I am making just a few drops of difference, maybe.

Whenever I look at a homeless person, that is what is facing me, and making it hard to stay conscious and present: the awareness of both the hypocrisy of my position, and the sense of powerlessness.

And yet another part of me also speaks up, quoting that great book, “Cloud Atlas”: “And what is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

So, keep trying. And next time I will try to remain conscious and face myself in that mirror of the other.