I am a very fortunate man. Although I have not attracted very much financial abundance into my life as of late (actually as of ever) I am remarkably blessed to have cultivated some wonderful relationships with several outstanding people. When I have shared my intention for my latest expedition, I have received many offers for help from a variety of good folks, from food and shelter to tools and transportation. However, in the last week of joining the ranks of the homeless again I have noticed many folks who are far less fortunate than I.
Part of my fortune lies in the fact that I have learned to find fortune everywhere. Even during those times that I have fallen on hard times (or when they have fallen on me), I have still maintained the arguably maniacal outlook of idealism in at least the reslilience I have in riding it out. This generally comes from faith in a Higher Intelligence that has constantly taught me knew things about myself and the world around me, and which I believe is sculpting me into a man that can make a positive difference in the world. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my faith, and when many of them go through hard times, they do not do it in as buoyant a fashion as I.
Perhaps it is my desire to always look for the positive and perhaps it is because I have not been kicked as hard as other people. I have been extremely blessed to have been given bright blue eyes, what has been called an infectious smile (I believe that was meant to be a compliment), and I don’t think that I’m exactly repulsive to look at, even on a bad day. So this may make it a little easier for me to approach other people and ask for help as I need it. Nevertheless, in the last few days, as I have carried my meager personal belongings upon my back, walking the streets of Sarasota drenched in sweat, even I have had many people avoid eye contact with me or not reply to my usual “Good morning.” (Of course, some people in my community have avoided a “Good morning” even when I’ve been dressed to the nines so maybe it’s not just my appearance that makes them turn away.)
This is all to say that although I may be drifting down to a level of society that is definitely a hard knock life, I will never find myself knocked as hard as others that I have met over the last few days. After all, I still have a variety of talents and a number of friends who are willing to help me here and there. For instance, after a good night’s sleep on Lois Betterton’s futon, she also extended enough grace to allow me to use her computer to write this and some ointment to help heal the six inch gash I received on the sole of my foot the other night, a minor cut that has made it increasingly difficult to walk over the last two days. So as noble an endeavor as this might seem, I will never reach the bowels of hell that some people call daily life.
Unfortunately, as much as I might want to, I also realize that there’s really not anything I can do to help a lot of these people. For some, the life of destitution is simply a habit. We learn by what we see and do day in and day out. And for many of these people, the ones who have been living on the streets for years, there is no other reality that they can even imagine. So although I have high hopes for shedding light on some of the challenges in order to see the possibility of solutions, I have to swallow the harsh fact that I can’t change everything for everybody. Some people, even when thrown a lifeline, won’t reach for it because their repetitive circumstances have trained them not to. Nevertheless, that is not the case for all of them. And for those who are at least willing to squint to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I do hope that I can shine one bright enough to guide them toward a better life.