A Week’s Worth…

Posted: December 21, 2007 in Acceptance, Compassion, Homelessness

The latest issue of the SLO New Times came out yesterday, so a week that I had absolutely no way of being to foresee is now behind me.

Although, I didn’t mention it before, I had been interviewed for the New Times and the article ran in last weeks edition, with a complete collage of photographs of yours truly.

Geez! I wasn’t aware that I made so many different types of faces. Sigh.  

Regardless, as a result of the article a number of extraordinary things occurred, beginning with a large number of emails from folks wishing me well, or telling me "Good Luck, Buddy," saying that I was in their prayers and other words of encouragement. I lost track of the count of emails I received, and at this point, I’m just too "bushed" to do a re-count of how many of them there were total.

Actually, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of compassion and understanding. I did my best to answer all of them as quickly as possible. Hopefully I managed to respond to all of them without missing any but if I did, I hope the sender(s) will understand and forgive my oversight.

Then, of course, there were folks who recognized me from the photos in the article and would come up to me to shake my hand, most of them saying that the article gave them a new insight into homelessness in our community. Again, there were a lot of folks wishing me well.

I even received an e-mail from a gentleman who is one of the staff at the library. It seems that they found a laptop this past weekend in the very cubicle that I had working in on Saturday and were concerned that it was mine. He wanted to let me know that the library had found it and they were holding it for me at the Audiovisual desk on the second floor.

Thankfully it wasn’t my laptop, nonetheless I was appreciative of their concern.

On Wednesday, Suckerfish director, José Lemus and I were having a visit with one another and we talked about the many things that have occurred in my life since the debut of the documentary this past March. To just say that the film had an impact in my life would be like equating the Grand Canyon with a crack in the sidewalk.

The truth is that the film became the foundation on which this blog was born. Yet, there were other determining factors as well: New Times Arts Editor, Ashley Schwellenbach’s online blog review of Suckerfish. In it she referred to me as "articulate" and "vocal."

When I read those two words I had to respond, but my comment would have been longer than her post for that evening. So I figured: "What the heck, why not?" It was at that point that this blog took its first breath.

As I shared with José some of the things that had been happening in just the past week, there were two things that kept going around in my mind: the many different people in my community who have reached out a hand of mercy, compassion and aid to me in the time that I’ve experienced homelessness and, that there are so many more "Michael’s" – not only in my community, but throughout the entire nation.

As I thought about all of the other "Michael’s" who are homeless, a "dark cloud" came over me – almost like an oppressing shadow pressing down on spirit – until I remembered all of those in this community who have reached out to me. Suddenly, there was a new sense of hope. A hope that, by somehow working in concert, we might find a way of helping those of our fellow human beings who find themselves homeless regain a foot hold back into this: their community.

I’m realistic enough to know that there are those homeless who we will be unable to rescue – either because they don’t want to be rescued or because they’ve been homeless for so long that becoming a contributing member of society is no longer possible. I have, however, experienced enough to know that there are just as many homeless would are hoping and praying for the opportunity to leave life on the streets behind. And, all it would take is for someone to step up and reach out a helping hand.

How do I know? Because I’m living proof.

Sure, my life is far from perfect right now. Yes, I’m struggling with all my might to get back on solid ground. I may still have several more steps in this journey that will be on shifting sand before the path finally becomes firm, but at least it’s not a mire I’m walking through.

And all it took were "regular" folk who allowed themselves to be motivated by their compassion; everyday people who were willing to recognize me as a person – not as a homeless person. More importantly, they acted on their compassion. They didn’t "just almost give."

One thought occurs to me as I write this:

I realize that the majority of people are actually indifferent to the plight of America’s homeless. That is something that has always been a "pet peeve" with me.

Now, however, think that perhaps it isn’t so much about the quantity of those who don’t care, but rather the quality of those who do.

In fact, I’m certain of that.

Oh… and for those of you who might be interested in having Suckerfish shown at your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or any other organization, drop José an email at:

jmlemus@illuminationfilms.net

… and let him know. I’m sure he’ll say yes.

In fact, tell him I referred you to him.

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Comments
  1. Anita Shower says:

    The quality of those who care as opposed to the quantity of those who don’t care is the same as only concerning yourself with those who come to the party; the rest do not matter.
    /as

  2. michael says:

    Anita,

    I’ll must admit that I’m at a loss regarding your comment… as are a number of folks who have emailed me asking what I think you were trying to say.

    Perhaps you would be so kind as to clarify…

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