Happened to stumble across this video clip this morning:
He is a human being. Very humbling to listen to his words and to take time to consider how close any one of us is to experiencing that same fate. Many are only a couple paychecks away from possibly losing everything…
Homeless persons have always pulled at my heartstrings, as I’m sure is true for many others out here. They remind us of our shared humanity as well as how rapidly luck can turn, how bad circumstances can spiral and snowball into desperate situations. Puts into clearer perspective one’s own pains and problems.
Might sound cliche, but I’m going somewhere with this.
Ya know, one thing that always comes to mind when I’m confronted with a homeless person, as occurred again yesterday, is what tools are at my disposal to ward off such a fate. Not all have access to the same tools though. It might displease some people to hear it, but I’m going to be blunt here. I got lucky by being born a reasonably attractive female in this day and time. Why? Because I could always trade my sexuality in order to access what I needed, primarily money. Hence why I worked as an escort throughout much of my 20s. Does that come with its own downside and psychological baggage? Of course it does, but I never went homeless for more than a night. Been mistreated and put up with more than I cared to, but I was luckily savvy enough to steer clear of most druggies and dangerous individuals, and there I’m referring to my teenage years, prior to becoming an escort, which I believe the education provided during those years conditioned me to handle. It’s tough out here for young people who don’t have protective families to provide for their needs and to keep them safe, and some of us had to learn many things the hard way. Some of us got luckier than others, if we’re to make that crude comparison.
But that realization can’t help but humble me, knowing I possessed something naturally bestowed that could be honed and used to attract what I needed to get by. And not just tens of dollars but hundreds of dollars per client. And like a lot of inexperienced youths, I took that for granted at the time, not realizing yet how time would take its toll eventually. Though, luckily, another business opportunity presented itself to my imagination and so I transitioned that direction and have remained there ever since, leaving behind that old lifestyle, though carrying forward its lessons, as well as its psychic scars.
Those scars came primarily as a result of how people label you, the words they call you, how they look at and judge you…how some come to see you as less than human (“lower than a dog” is one insult that stayed in my mind over the years). In that respect, I can relate to that man in the video and others like him, though our paths were very different. Words do hurt, absolutely they do. They have power. We can pretend they don’t, but when one’s humanity is denied and you realize some people see you as completely disposable, as irrelevant, as something different from themselves to either be used or avoided, it can’t help but mess with a person’s mind and damage the soul. Thankfully better people exist who do not view others in that narrow of a way, and I was fortunate to have known plenty who treated me fairly decently and noted the potential within me. Not everybody receives such a fair shake as that though, particularly when they’ve grown old and appear physically worn out or belong to a race that some others choose to disdain.
That’s a sad truth in this life. Everybody needs a helping hand from time to time. Every single one of us. And everybody deserves to have their humanity recognized, setting aside all the labeling garbage.
I can be in my worst hours, feeling like I don’t know where to go from here, feeling that rock bottom isn’t terribly far off, and then I come across someone in a worse situation who’s humbled and sad and in need. A look in my wallet tells me I have something that they could benefit from more than I likely will. In my life, money has generally been easy come, easy go. So I share it with others who might hopefully be able to put it to better use. Figure I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attract enough to cover what I need, so the rest is just a gift, an extraneous offering intended to be shared when paths cross and needs are going unmet. Feels like the right thing to do, ever since I was a young teenager and first confronted on the streets by a homeless elderly woman in Gulfport, Mississippi. We share, because we are human. What else is money for than to provide what we need to survive?
Material desires feel trifling as time moves on. Don’t need so many fancy gadgets or designer brands or decorative furnishings. They don’t bring much pleasure, not usually, not unless received as gifts from people who cared. My life has simplified tremendously since around 2007. I am largely content wearing the same garments until they become too tattered to restore. Have shoes I haven’t tried on in years. Appreciate the jewelry received as gifts along the way, but there’s no real desire for more. All of the art on my walls was either painted by me or received as gifts. Most books I purchase used for cheap, and some of them belong among my prized possessions. Clothing and lingerie hang in my closets that haven’t been worn in years, awaiting the day I might fit into them again. Sometimes I go through phases of buying makeup, but mostly it sits unused, causing me to feel guilty for wasting money on petty indulgences. During daytime hours I ceased wearing makeup anyway.
Most flowers I receive these days are clipped out of people’s gardens, and it really brightens my day when someone makes the offer and asks me to bring by a vase for them to fill. The homegrown peonies on my counter currently mean more than store-bought roses ever could. Because it came from their own garden, which is a product of their own skills and effort and time spent. Same for when people offer to share with me vegetables they’ve grown.
Very thankful that my vehicle is paid off, though it requires repairs soon. Still sad that someone who knew how to fix it led me on and never did so, but that’s on him now, considering I did try to do right by him by buying him nice things and making sure he had some of what he needed to get by, like snow tires for his car this past winter. But we shouldn’t think about that right now. A friend has offered to help me with that instead. And that’s been a harsh lesson right there — expending energy on someone who didn’t truly appreciate it while depriving myself in the process. But whatever. We live and we learn…
And now, lately, I’ve been frequenting bars more often than I probably ought to, wasting money on drinks that only contribute empty calories, in an effort to numb some of the feelings I have inside. Pacing the cage, yes. Using these outings as opportunities to meet and converse with new people, some of whom are in more troubled spaces themselves, others who have wisdom to offer up, while keeping an eye out for those who just wish to exploit and take advantage since those types are everywhere. But it beats sitting at home drinking alone as I have been doing too much of these last two years. Can’t bear doing that anymore. Not even allowing myself to purchase alcohol for home consumption anymore. Because it got to feeling like a slow death. The opposite of living. Isolating myself away from others and our shared human concerns and the ways in which we might help one another. When I’m out I see people, including those in unfortunate circumstances, and a part of me feels guilty for wasting as much as I do and not contributing more. Though I suppose it’s impossible to live within a consumption-based economy without participating to whatever extent as a consumer. Either way, I choose to share. I’d probably just drink that money away anyway. And if that individual chooses to do so, maybe it was their turn. What do I care? If it brings them a little peace for the evening, then isn’t that worthwhile?
We all hurt and we all go through rough times in whatever form it may take. Pain is pain. Sometimes just sitting with a person and listening to them is more valuable than anything else you can provide. Sharing meals is the simplest and most meaningful form of communion. The more greedy I behave as, the more miserable I become…that’s something life’s been teaching me over time as well. My things don’t bring me as much pleasure as interaction with good people does. My day feels purposeful when I am able to offer useful assistance of some kind. And I think that points to what it truly means to be human.
Some say that I am selfish woman. They are correct, but that’s not all I am. Never claimed to be a good person, though I’d like to think I’m not the worst, troubled as I obviously am. But when I share what I do have, my burdens feel a little lighter and my outlook appears a little less gloomy. Because I’m reminded that we’re all in this together, and it can be no other way.