There was an interview with a famous performer who explained how they gave up their worldly possessions so they could find themselves. As I heard this, I thought to myself, “Man, — that’s rich.”
It is somewhere past 5:00am in this part of purgatory. The previous storm has left its mark on the residents around town. There are cars stranded after the floods. There are homes that are wrecked from the winds and some that were torn apart from the tornado, which is rare in these parts. There is tension in the air, and all the while; in reality, this is just another day in the life on Project Earth.
I was thinking about the performer. I was thinking about the choice to give up all of my worldly possessions and yet; meanwhile, I am writing to you from one of my most precious things. I am thinking about the sworn poverty. I am thinking about the dedication it takes to pull this off—and yet, I was wondering if this performer goes hungry. Do they ever really know what it means to go without? For example, should their stock fall and their agents stop calling; what happens then?
See, in fairness, I do not envy the famous. I understand the draw. I understand the glitz and the gleam. But for the most part, I believe there are times when all the royalties in the world cannot cover the cost of fame. There are holes in us that can never be filled. But yet, I digress. Yes, I am fortunate. I am blessed. I am alive and well and living in New York, New York—it’s a helluva town, so they say.
I see things . . .
And I hear people talking about the problems we face in our society. I think about the arguments. I think about the discussions that go on about the people in the streets; the junkies and the bums, the homeless, the mentally ill and the unfortunate.
Meanwhile, I found myself in somewhat of a heated exchange because some kid on his cell phone messed up my order in a drive-thru. And I thought to myself, “Really?”
Is this what I want to do with my time?
In short, my answer is “No” but I admit it.
I give into my own immaturity and throw tantrums.
Out of curiosity though, have you ever seen the inside of a homeless shelter?
I can say that this is humbling. I can say this puts life into perspective.
Have you ever spent a night on the street?
You lay there with nothing between you and the pavement but a cardboard box that you found someplace. And by the way, I’m not saying this was me either.
I was close a few times, but never homeless. I was more like a runaway. I crashed in a few places. I found myself in back alleyways and broken down houses, dope dens and crack houses a few times. I’ve spent nights in drunk tanks and jail cells with howling winos and the local gutter rats, the thieves, the so-called junkies and the low to mid-level crooks who swore they were like gangsters from a movie.
I’ve heard from the jailhouse lawyers that sat in the cell next to me in the holding cells and they were convicts too, but yet, they went through the system so much that they believed they knew what they were talking about.
“Tell your lawyer to say this . . .”
“Tell the judge that . . .”
I admit it. I’ve been here.
I watched as people devoted their lives to a daily sickness. I watched as they faded away, almost like something from a time-elapsed film, slowly degrading their life until they were absolutely lifeless.
I saw the sickness take away their charm and charisma. I watched life disappear from the push of a plunger—and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, and all the money world, and all of the machines in the hospital couldn’t put people together again.
I thought about this performer and their worldly possessions. I get it. I know this came from a wholesome place. I know this came from a place where a person wanted to let go of everything they have, just so they could find themselves again. As a matter of fact, I know people who do this on a daily basis. Perhaps their process is not the same as the performer, but still, —they give up their worldly life, just so they can find themselves again.
There are things that I have learned which have changed my life. First, don’t act like you know—especially when you don’t know. Don’t pretend to relate. Listen. Learn. Watch. And pay attention. The fact of the matter is we all have life in front of us. We have tasks at hand. We have thoughts and ideas. We have dreams, aspirations, and above all, we have a heart, which means we have feelings and emotions. We are all human.
There was a morning after I finished a tour at a hospital. There was a girl that I sat with. At one point, it was clear that she was physically beautiful. Her beauty was still there but her spirit was slightly muted from a daily habit. She overdosed on my watch and that’s how we met. I was deployed to the hospital.
Someone asked me, “Why do you even bother with that shit?”
“They should have just let her die.”
By the way, this was on Christmas Eve. She died on the Eve and she was brought back to life on Christmas Day—which, to me, this meant she was a Christmas miracle. I think about this young woman sometimes. I think about Theresa. She was my first deployment. She was dead too and yet, she was brought back to life. In fact, I am still in touch with her.
God, I am so small.
I am so small in this world. I am this little tiny thing—I am only a glimpse. I am a quick matter of happenstance, and yet, there is so much out there. There is so much to see. There are so many things that we fail to consider.
I think about some of my client base. I think about the people who read my rambled posts and I think about the thought in my head which goes, “Nobody wants to read about this shit.”
It’s too raw. It’s too real. It hurts, It’s sad.
But hell, this isn’t about them. (Right?)
Yet, there is someone out there who is alone, hungry, cold and tired—and if for no other reason than this; I know what it feels like to be forgotten or cast aside. I know what it feels like to be hurt, to have trauma, to have scars that no one can see, and I know what it feels like to have wounds that money cannot heal. Maybe the fact that we are not alone is more lifesaving than we think.
I don’t want to give up my worldly possessions. I work hard for what I have. I work somewhere around 14 to 18 hours each day. And sometimes, just when I settle down, the phone rings. I put the TV on mute and there’s someone out there—reaching out rather than dying.
I know this is heavy so please, forgive the sappiness. But there is truth here. I don’t know what my purpose is. I don’t know what my end-game will be. I just know there is something out there for me—I call it hope. I call it my salvation. Or better yet, I call this my redemption because one day, in my heart, I believe there will be a time when I have to stand and answer.
And I will answer.
I will answer with all of my heart. This was me. This is what I did. This is what I’ve lost. And this is what I’ve given.
It hurts to hear when someone dies—even when you barely knew them. It helps me to keep pushing; to see someone come back from behind, to regain their life; to recover, and to rewrite their future.
I have seen this with my own eyes and because of this, I am fortunate.
There’s a great big world out there.
I’m lucky—even when I wasn’t lucky at all . . .
I was still the luckiest man alive.