My First Week on the Street

Posted: April 9, 2015 in Personal Stories

So it’s been just over one week now since I left everything behind in order to become homeless and begin advising people, for free, on spiritual matters. Let me tell you a few of the things I’ve learned.

1) Living with love and kindness, in every moment, under all conditions, opens the door to greater love and kindness. Love and kindness lead to communication, understanding, and connection; reducing misunderstandings and the drama that often arises from them.

2) Bathroom access is problematic and quite ridiculous. As a homeless person I must pay a ‘bathroom tax’ at business locations, meaning that you must be a customer to use the restroom. I go to Starbucks most mornings and pay for a coffee. I tell them I do not want the coffee and not to serve it – I am only paying my daily bathroom tax so I can have the code for the door.

3) People are extremely loud and obnoxious on the streets. I am not talking about the homeless people. I am talking about the drunks, the students, and the clueless who are on their way somewhere – the ones that yell up and down the streets at 3am, not caring that people are trying to sleep. It’s really quite challenging – the total lack of presence that some people have.

4) It’s tough to sleep with the lights on everywhere. Many folks have to dig down into their sleeping bags to shield themselves from the constant barrage of street and business lights. I myself sleep with my hat on my face in order to block it out. I’ve asked a friend to check on getting some sleeping masks that I might be able to hand out to people.

5) Bagwatching is the number one request that we make of each other. Having to lug your world around with you everywhere you go can be tough. Having a few trusted allies that can keep an eye on your things while you go to the bathroom, get a drink, or just walk for a bit to stretch your legs can be invaluable. Trust is essential here though – trusting and being trustworthy.

6) Years of experience in the military, backpacking, and hiking have contributed to a rather large body of knowledge that enables me to be comfortable sleeping on the streets. Knowing things about body heat retention, shelter structures, physical and dietary needs, and ‘leave no trace’ are all transferable skills to living life on the streets.

7) People either embrace you or look down on you. I have lots of conversations with people about what I am doing – and many people can see my joy and sense of freedom without even sharing in conversation. Some people see my backpack and make assumptions though – I’ve already been told I’m a drain on society a couple of times by people who know nothing about me.

8) There is tremendous generosity out here in the world. From all of the wonderful smiles I get, to the people who leave food for me to distribute to others, to the homeless that offer me their own food when they have so little to begin with. There are also those businesses and people who let the homeless use bathrooms, offer to refill empty water bottles, and more.

9) Many people on the streets are caught up in their own dramas. Indeed it is a community of loving and supportive people who freely share with one another, but at the same time people are carrying around a lot of wounds and deep scars – triggers are everywhere and it’s easy to set someone off with a look or a word. Then things escalate and everyone loses.

10) Things are changing all around me. The deeper my journey takes me, the more and more I surrender to God’s will, the more and more I am shown. It is incredible to witness the truth of God’s presence in my life with every passing moment. Faith is indeed to most crucial part of thriving on the streets instead of just surviving. But this is true no matter who we are…

’till next time.

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