Category Archives: Paradigm Shift

Random Acts of Kindness – Reaching Out to the Homeless

Greetings! And welcome to my little corner of the world. Thank you for spending your moments here with me.

The homeless. A big subject. And I feel there is a definite stigma to this whole thing. Similar to the stigma that follows Mental Illness. The stigma usually lives within the ignorant. The ones who sit and judge things that they haven’t taken the time to get beyond the lack of knowledge about. Without knowledge comes lack of empathy. Without empathy follows judgement. I don’t know a single person who chooses, or enjoys being mentally ill. It is a daily struggle, feeling alone, no answers to match the thousands of daily doubts and fears that come with.

Being homeless is no different. Who would want to live homeless? Sleeping on street corners and park benches. Being looked down upon, and being so hungry you hold up a cardboard sign on a street corner. I have heard statements such as:

They should work like the rest of us.

I won’t give them money, they will just use it on drugs.

They are just lazy.

People walk by, judging, elevating themselves as “better”. Better than what? Most of us are a paycheck or two or three away from being homeless ourselves. Add mental illness to the equation and you have many unmedicated, unsupported, poor, hungry, people literally living on the street. On the STREET. No where to shower, use a restroom, just rest their bodies. Rest their souls.

Nobody should live like that.

Now, none of us can save the world.. Fix the homeless catastrophe. Many believe if they can’t do something big, worthy, notable, well then……they just do nothing. I have always believed it takes many to do a little, as opposed to a few doing it all.

My mantra: Do what you can. With what you have. Where you are. So I have adopted this ideology into my daily life. No matter what town I’m in, what I’m doing, not being dependent on how much extra money I may or may not have. I can always do SOMETHING.

So here’s what I have started to do. My little contribution. May not make a difference to the masses But I know it has made a difference to the few. I collect things on sale and save it in a box. I get quart sized ziplock bags and fill them with some randomness, a few necessities, and a love note. Letting them know that someone cares. With a positive quote or whatever strikes me at the time.

Here’s an example of things I put in my bags I hand out to strangers. And I have to admit, some have become friends. I have learned more from the homeless people I have hung out with than I could ever impart. It has been a life habit I am thankful I have adopted. It’s just my little contribution.

I have bought a loaf of bread, sandwich meat and cheese, turned it into sandwiches, fruit and small bags of chips and hung out at a homeless park. The pureness of heart and the absolute gratitude by sharing simple sandwiches is overwhelming. To hear the stories, of how they got to where they are, their hopes and dreams are not too different than mine. To be accepted, loved, and to feel safe. And I have never done this where I wasn’t offered to share what little they had. One time I got a rock. A rock! But it was a “lucky rock” that a man had carried in his pocket for over a year. I still have it. Precious to me.

I lived up in Ukiah California, which is about an hour and a half north of San Francisco in a hotel. As I walked to my car, I noticed a man with a bike, rummaging through the trash. Heartbreaking. I went to a restaurant across the road and bought two breakfasts to go and two coffees. I went back to the parking lot, and he was still at it. I walked over to him and said hello. He immediately looked at me, with shame, and guilt hidden behind his eyes. I introduced myself and shook his hand. I asked him what he was looking for. He just said two words. “I’m hungry”. I invited him to come sit on this small wall with me that was in this parking lot. I offered him breakfast and we sat there for over an hour. We ate, we shared stories, we laughed, we cried as well.

I’m nothing special. I struggle just like we all do. I have a busy job, and I’m alone most of the time. But I do what I can. With what I have. Where I am. And I’m telling you, it makes a difference. He probably gave me more than I gave to him that day.
His name was Elias. And he is my friend.

I am hoping that if your eyes have reached this far, that you can collect a pearl to take away with you. Perhaps something to think about.

Until next time……..be kind……always,

Polley93

Advertisements

Paradigm Shift

Greetings and welcome to my little corner of the world.

This blog post will be a little different. No photos, or trips, or any of the other random things I post about.

Let me tell you a story.

A man climbed onto the train to finally go home after a completely exhausting and discouraging work day.  He slumped onto an empty seat on a primarily empty train. He didn’t realize he was heading home so late, Good God the wife won’t be happy, as he never called to let her know. He settled in, as settled in as you could get on a train, and anticipated the hour commute home. He had no thankful bone in his body. He grabbed his cell phone out of his pocket only to see he had 4% battery left. Perfect. He tucked it into his worn and weathered briefcase, next to the four packages of sweets he reluctantly bought from one of his colleagues, which he internally was NOT happy about. Who does that? Sells useless crap at work that you feel obligated to buy as you don’t want to be THAT one. He could have spent that money on a hundred different things. He looked out the window, as the sky darkened and it started to pour. Can this day get any worse? Leave a job where you are unappreciated, with a briefcase full of sugar that he never even wanted, to a cold dinner and an angry wife in the pouring rain.

The train stopped and he was startled by loud singing, and not even GOOD singing, at loud and awkward laughter and the train doors opened. They opened to let four little children run SCREAMING onto this train. His train. His empty train car that he had to himself to wallow in his well deserved self-pity. The children seated themselves in random seats, not even together. They were disheveled and unkempt, almost dirty. They could all use a good scrubbing! The youngest little girl had matted hair in the back and he wasn’t altogether sure it wasn’t gum!  And a very tired stranger. sat down in the seats opposite of the man. The children were throwing things and singing that damn song! They would screech out words and then at the loudest and highest parts, they would all be quiet for eight, nine, ten beats and then continue on. The noise to his aching Brain was almost intolerable. They repeated the song over and over. How could this tired looking  stranger allow his children to behave in this ill manner? Wasn’t he going to say something? The man shifted in his seat and made an obviously disgusted groan that got the tired strangers attention.

The tired stranger leaned in and quietly said,

“Excuse me sir, I apologize for my children, and the noise. I’m sure you didn’t expect this on your trip.” You bet I most certainly did not, the man thought in his head and felt he was about to pop off and give this gent a piece of his mind. Seriously! He had a horrible day and just wanted a quiet commute home! Was that too much to ask? But the stranger continued.

“You see, their mother has been very ill. We have been at the hospital for five straight days, and she passed away this evening. The last thing my wife said to them is “Never forget to play. Never forget to sing. Never forget to sing our song. I will always be singing my part right along with you, even if you can’t hear me, I will be singing”

“So you see. They are just doing what their mother asked. A little loud I realize, but they are doing the best they can.”

The man almost choked on the tears that he felt streaming down his face. He looked down feeling very selfish. He slowly looked up at the children. They looked different. now. They looked tired. They looked sad. They sang that song, and they let their mother sing her part. They were coping, and doing the best they could in a situation they did not understand. The song was no longer loud and irritating. Instead it sounded like grief.

His stop came. He reached down in his brief case and handed the man the four packages of sweets that not only an hour ago were another reason to wallow in self-pity. The children all thanked him for the sweets as he went toward the door of the train. Before he left the little girl, with the gum in her hair, hugged his leg, and smiled faintly.

He was  never so glad to have bought sweets in his life. He looked forward to a cold dinner. The rain felt cool and cleansing now. He would hug his wife and say he was sorry and be so very thankful she would be waiting there in their little house on the corner. Oh so very thankful.

Paradigm Shift.  A fundamental change in underlying assumptions. Walking a mile in another’s shoes. Viewing from the other side of the line. A new view.

It can change everything.  So before you believe you have it all figured out. Before you judge a situation, an event, a person, I hope you will remember this story. Remember how in a split second, the whole understanding can be changed, altered, improved.

We ALL have a story.

Until next time…….be kind…….always,

Polley93