My biggest fear is becoming homeless and forgotten left to wander the streets with tuburculousis. I know this most likely won’t happen but in a way homelessness is the ultimate most extreme result for the types of problems that I have, such as lack of funds, lack of job, own nothing that appreciates over time, no plan for the future and a very up and down career path. Luckily, I’m of a relatively sane mind and I have hordes of friends and family.
Lately, I have tried to be of service in a sort of overacheiever overdrive way, volunteering days with the homeless and just going above and beyond trying to tithe when I can’t make ends meet. I realized I really had to take care of my own needs first and then when I’m abundant I can help others. So I had to scale back on my community service.
On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I can walk around ignoring homeless people, which I usually do because it’s convenient for me. When I’m driving around and someone randomly cuts me off or flips me off or expresses disgust that I share the road with them, sometimes I can get really sad thinking, “I bet that person would like me, if they knew me.”
So, as I ignored a homeless person yesterday I realized that I’m doing what I hate – just ignoring humanity right in front of me. I think that I can get caught up in perfectionism with my humanitarianism. I think the most important thing is not to treat homeless people like shit and ignore them. It’s that simple. I’m not looking to be a hero or save a life. I know a lot of homeless people are drug addicts, etc and I don’t always like to give money but I can buy them a muffin or at least make eye contact. They’re human beings. I don’t do it to make myself feel better it’s just simply the only thing to do because it’s the right thing to do.
I’m not doing great financially right now and just this morning I was sort of getting creative on how to buy some coffee. I went to a 7-11 and saw a homeless woman outside. Her cough sounded like death drowning. I saw a banana and since it was cheap I figured I’d get a smaller sized coffee and use the rest to buy her a banana. I assumed she was hungry and if she WAS going to use all of her money for drugs – she still had to eat. This isn’t a moral judgment situation – it’s just God awful to let someone starve because they’re a drug addict and can’t choose in their right mind between food and getting high.
I asked her if she wanted a banana and she was so excited. She said, “Do you know the banana is the world’s most perfect food?” She started telling me all the vitamins and minerals in a banana. She said that she goes to Sears everyday to watch Dr. Phil. She said, “I watch Dr. Phil to get tips and learn something. Do you?” I said, “Yeah, I’ve seen him.” And she didn’t get pissy like, “Yeah you rich woman with a TV. Fuck off. I have to go to Sears to watch daytime television.” (That’s how I would behave if I were homeless.)
Anyway she said that yesterday Dr. Phil said that if you were stranded on a desert island with only one food – a banana would be the perfect choice. Then she added that this parking lot was her desert island. She laughed. Coughed. And then she said, “I haven’t eaten since 5pm yesterday.”
If I hadn’t eaten since 5pm yesterday I’d be throwing a holy tantrum, snapping at everyone in the name of ‘low blood sugar’ and if someone handed me a banana on an empty stomach I’d throw it at them.
So, what was important for me to see was her gratitude and it was important to note her gratitude was NOT AT ME. I’m not a hero for buying a fucking banana. She was just grateful to eat and not ashamed to accept help.
That was just good for me to see. I’m really short on gratitude right now – intellectually I know to be grateful for all the opportunities I have every day to survive but I’m not always connected to that knowledge. I tend to get ashamed and angry when I have to ask for help or have others buy something for me or work some stupid side job for the day just to pay a bill. Simple gratitude and simple human connection is really just pure grace.