Whether a result of bad breaks and costly mistakes, or a sudden life-shattering event or circumstance, the disillusioned of us have found themselves removed from the mainstream population.
Aptly named “homeless,” they sadly live, eat, and sleep on the same streets the rest of us jog, drive, and play. City parks, doorways, and bus benches hold their masses.
To all appearances, these helpless, hopeless misfits eek out an existence on discarded, disposed, or donated necessities.
Admittedly an eyesore, their presence is found bothersome, uncomfortable, and downright heartbreaking. Even the most compassionate amongst us would be grateful if they would just go away.
The shear number of these disenfranchised is not only astonishing, but absolutely overwhelming.
It leaves one to ask the question, “If, and I said if, I was willing, even eager, to help address this problem, where would I go? Or where to begin?”
To this, I admit there is no easy answer. The logistics of catering to a need so dire leaves humble good people doing nothing.
But this I’ll state as fact: They’re not going anywhere. There is no “away.” This place does not exist. If they had a place to go, they wouldn’t be here.
Regardless whether lumped together with such derogatory terms as lazy, criminal, or insane, they are as much a part of American society as schools, police, and skyscrapers, with ranks that are growing exponentially. No matter if begging for your money, ranting and raving at invisible demons, or just lying in the dirt defeated and broken, the truth is they are as baffled why they don’t fit in as you are. Seeming never to quite fit in. Even their adolescent years were riddled with a feeling of not having, or even feeling like, enough. No matter the effort or desire to be “Joe Citizen,” their best always seems to fall woefully short. Being not enough to be acceptable for “them,” even for you.
Please don’t be deceiver, however; hopes, dreams, and healthy desires are not foreign ideas to them. They just appear, somehow.
They have become a luxury not afforded to them. Too painful to maintain amongst the insurmountable self-destruction and failures of their past.
Lives, relationships, and careers others seem to manage effortlessly seem unavailable, paralyzing, frightful, and, frankly, unattainable.
With a mixture of unhealthy emotions, they see everything around them functioning seamlessly, justifying their feelings of envy, jealousy, and even awe.
Please understand this: They are as bewildered and amazed at the way you function in and with society as you are disturbed and disgust by them.
Please, I beg you to reevaluate your own fears and biases. Because, no matter who, what, when, where, or why, they aren’t participating, even trying. These people are our family. They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children. Smile for them. Say hi to them. You might be surprised to see how grateful they are, not only for the acknowledgment of their existence, but for the rare opportunity to share with someone, anyone, their capacity to love, care, and contribute.
Now, I’m not asking you to leave the comfort and warmth of your homes tonight to rest with them under the cold, dark night sky, with its unreachable stars. They wouldn’t ask that of you, either. Just take some time to ponder and reevaluate the cosmic truth that our mortal bodies are but vessels, fading, dying containers of the true us.
Possessions, property, social standing, and prestige, (real or imagined), are but whispers of smoke seen through the mirror of mortal deception. Amounting, eventually, to nothing.
Someday, and someday soon, the realm of our human existence, with all of its expectations, judgments, and disappointments will mercifully cease to exist, thus propelling us to our true home, our infinite perfect residence within which each of us, though distinctly different and preciously unique, shall become equal, indispensable fragments of a greater whole.
Pieces that can’t fall short, and are always enough. Complete with understanding that our past was exactly what it was supposed to be. Necessary to shape and form this piece we were destined to become. Unmistakably complete, cosmically perfect, and finally enough.
Photo by Jason Yung.