Comfort Zones

Posted: May 10, 2007 in Employment, Homelessness, Hopes

Two thoughts have been coming to mind lately: "variety is the spice of life" and "change is a good thing."

I’ve been experiencing both. You might say that I’m experiencing a variety of changes. Although, for the most part, the changes have been good, I find that I’m feeling a bit awkward about them. Mostly because I’ve – unfortunately – become accustomed to doing things a bit differently – having been homeless now for about 18 months – than I did when I had a "real life."  

Human beings are creatures of habit and we like things that are familiar to us. And, while change of some sort is inevitable, we all have a natural tendency to be somewhat reluctant to change – especially when it starts happening rapidly. We like doing the things the same way, going to places that we’ve been before, talking to people that we’re comfortable with, and as a result we get into our own little routines. We find ourselves not straying too far from our own little comfort zones.

While comfort zones aren’t in themselves a bad thing because they give life a sense of stability and continuity, they can create some self-inflicted limits when it comes time to move ahead in life. And, that’s where the struggle to grow beyond what we currently are comes in.

Although I’m working again I’m still homeless and it may a while before I can find a place to put down roots and call my own. That doesn’t bother me – too much. But it does cause me to have to reschedule many of the activities that used to occupy most of my time. That means having to set different priorities.

For example:

Since the tent I live in doesn’t have electricity (and it’s highly unlikely that the electric company will put some in for me) on those days when the library isn’t open I need to find an electrical outlet somewhere to charge my cell phone. Although I know of certain places where I can do that, they’re not near to where I live. And, when I’ve had to avail myself of those places I’m accustomed to getting there are certain times of the morning so that I’m not a "nuisance" – something that many non-homeless members of this community consider the homeless to be.

Now, with the added activity of trying to make sure I keep to a regular work routine that makes it a bit harder. I’m trying to adjust, but as most homeless people will tell you – the longer you’ve been homeless the harder it is to get back into a productive routine.

Then of course, there is the necessity for money. The projects I’m currently working on are small, modest projects. Once I’ve completed them I’ll get paid. But, I’m not going to go from rags to riches with them. So, I’ll need to acquire additional projects BEFORE I’m through with these. And that requires time and effort.

Although I’m optimistic about getting new projects, I’m still moving ahead with realistic caution. What’s that phrase about counting your chickens before they’re hatched?

And, with all of that still comes the need to eat – so I find myself still needing a minimal amount of money. That creates a bit of a dilemma for me.

I’ve never liked panhandling. I’ve always felt extremely self-conscious about it. And now, since I am working again the feeling is worse. But, it’s either that or starve – something that I’m sure would be an unpleasant experience. So, I find that – at least for the time being – that I have to make time to stand on a corner somewhere with my little sign hoping that I can get a few bucks. And again, that takes time.

I know that there are some homeless who claim that they can go out and panhandle large sums of money in a relatively short amount of time. As far as I’m concerned they’re just talking out both sides of their mouths. It’s bunk!

Most of the homeless that I know – including myself – are lucky if they end up with $20 in their pocket for 5 or more hours of panhandling. And I have to tell you, standing in one spot for that long, hoping that you’ll get several people to help, isn’t as easy as it seems. Anyone who thinks it is should try doing it – then you can pass judgment.

The Rolling Stones recorded a song that said: "Time is on my side."

For me – since I’m at the half-century mark – time is running out. That’s just part of the natural cycle of life. So I have to make every minute, every moment count. And, for me, right now that means moving out of my own comfort zones.

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