Yesterday afternoon, while waiting for a bus, I was speaking with a friend – also homeless – who was commenting on some of the posts I’ve published.
At one point in the conversation he pointed out that there are some homeless people who don’t want to stop being homeless. I had to admit that it was a valid point. There certainly are some homeless who don’t want to advance any further than homelessness.
Later in the evening as I was eating supper, I began to wonder what it is that would cause a person to have no desire to move ahead in life and get out of being homeless.
As I started bringing to mind all of the homeless people I know I kept focusing on those who seem to enjoy being homeless. I realize that they all have the same thing in common – they have been homeless for long periods of time.
There is one homeless man who has been homeless now for 9 years. Another has been homeless for over 12 years.
Although I haven’t spoken to them and asked why they’ve been homeless for so long I have noticed that the longer a person is homeless the less desire and drive they have at any attempt at becoming a part of society again.
I’ll admit that I’m speculating on why a person loses desire to leave homelessness behind, but perhaps it comes down to this: after being homeless for an extended amount of time a person simply gives up and surrenders to the lifestyle.
It seems to me that those homeless who no longer have the desire to have a place of their own have resigned themselves to a life of homelessness simply because they’ve grown weary of trying to get ahead. After having so many "doors slammed in their face" I can see where the normal reaction would be to "stop knocking."
It makes me wonder what would have happened if they had been offered an opportunity early on to escape homelessness. Would they have welcomed the opportunity? Or, would they have simply turned their back on the chance?
I can’t speak for anyone else except myself. And, I know that I have always rebelled against my own homelessness. It has always been a distasteful existence. Even now, I have an intense dislike for being homeless.
To be sure, I’m trying desperately to move ahead in life – slow though the progress is, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to finally give into the despair that many homeless live with each day and just give up all hopes of one day not being homeless.
There have been times when despair has almost overcome me, but somehow, someway I’ve always been able to stave if off. Something deep within me has angrily resisted the very notion of remaining homeless for the rest of my life. Yet, there have been times when I’ve thought how it would be much easier to stop fighting against it. But then this small flicker of will has always re-emerged to prompt me to keep trying.
It’s sad to think that there are indeed those who will remain homeless till the last breath. It’s also sad to think that there are some who have deliberately chosen a life of homelessness.
Much worse is the thought that there are still many for whom homelessness is a curse that they would do anything to rid themselves of.
I’m one of those who continues to look forward to a time when I’ll have a place of my own.
And I’m hoping the journey won’t be too much longer.