Retrospect

Posted: January 10, 2008 in Acceptance, Goals, Homelessness, Hopes, Housing, Misconceptions, Self Esteem, Stereotypes

It’s been 10 months and 4 days since I started this blog.

I’ve tried to be diligent about writing and publishing a new post daily. When I started I had difficulties doing that because I was at the mercy of the public library’s hours; I was using their computers. A month or so afterward I was given a laptop – in fact, the very laptop on which I’m writing this post – and things became a bit easier when it came to adding a new post. And of course, it also gave me the tool I needed to begin doing some work.  

Over the last couple of weeks, I haven’t posted everyday like I usually do. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. It isn’t even that I’ve been too lazy to. Rather, it’s been that I’ve been caught up in a number of other activities which I hope will lead to a much more stable life for me and my significant other. And then of course, our being able to spend this past holiday season with family and friends out of town was a bit of a distraction that kept me from publishing any posts.

But to tell the truth, I’ve felt a little bit guilty about not posting on a daily basis. I’m not sure why. After all, it isn’t as though I’m actually obligated to do so by contract with anyone. Nonetheless I do feel a sense of obligation to write a post; that obligation is to myself. Yet, I’m also not sure why I feel this sense of obligation. Perhaps it has to do with the knowledge that I’ve managed to get to this point in my life because of the kindness of other people.

It hasn’t been in any way, shape or form, enjoyable being homeless. Neither has it been a pleasant experience being looked down upon by the majority of my community. There have been times when I’ve had people yell obscenities at me. I’ve also had times when people have thrown various items at me – and all because I happened to be homeless.

Things are a bit different now. I’ve been writing this blog and more and more folks in this area are realizing that there is more to me than just a person who doesn’t have a home. In fact, some folks don’t really know what to make of it. In their eyes I’m some type of enigma because I don’t fit into the stereotype of what they perceive a homeless person to be. I’m not lazy. I’m willing to work. I don’t get drunk or use drugs. I try to maintain a neat appearance. I’m reasonably intelligent. And, I’m actually trying to get somewhere in life.

Not exactly what most people think of when they think of homeless people.

Sure, there have been times when I’ve been forced to panhandle to raise enough money to buy food, clothing and other of life’s necessities, all because I couldn’t find gainful employment. It was either that or steal – and I don’t steal.

Yes, there were times when my appearance was a bit disheveled and I obviously wasn’t on my way to the theatre or the opera. Heck, there have been times when I have been forced to wear the same clothing for several days in a row. Not exactly my idea of a wonderful life.

But where does all of that leave me right now?

I’m not like many of the area’s other homeless. I’m not required to utilize the homeless support service agencies. In fact, it’s been some time now since I’ve used any of the homeless support services. I don’t really have to worry about where I’m going to sleep tonight. I won’t be sleeping in a tent, like I had to for nearly a year. I’ll be sleeping indoors.

Yet, it’s not my place I’m living at. I’m what is known as "couch homeless." Basically I’m in a transitional phase between being homeless and becoming non-homeless. While it’s a giant step up from living in a tent in a muddy field, it’s still not where I’m hoping to be in the near future.

I’m not sure just how long it will be before I have a stable life, but it’s nice to know that it could be any day now. That’s what I’ve been working toward this past 10 months or so.

Even so, I can’t help but to thinking about all of the new friends I’ve made during this period of homelessness in both the homeless and non-homeless segments of this community. Some of these new friendships are with people I’ve never met face to face, but through the wonderful medium of e-mail and telephone calls. All of these friendships mean a lot to me. They are friendships that I may have never known had it not been for finding myself homeless.

There are also other acquaintances that I’ve made as a result of having experienced homelessness. Those also mean quite a bit to me.

All of it has somehow enriched my life. Although, I must admit that sometimes that enrichment has been a bit blurred and out of focus because it’s been seen through the eyes of someone who has had to struggle just to live from one moment to the next without the prospect of a meal or a warm bed at night.

The only thing I know for certain is that I’m going to continue to write and publish posts to this blog for as long as I can. I hope that the homeless part of the journey will be over with in short order, but because of everything I’ve had to endure I imagine that I will always have a lot to say on the topic of homelessness. And, I intend on saying it.

What type of impact do I think I can have on the way society views our nation’s homeless? I haven’t the faintest idea. Will I have an impact? Again, I don’t know. Will anything positive ever come of it? I’d like to think so, but then it could happen without my ever knowing about it.

Then again, that’s not what’s important.

What’s important is that I continue to do what I know is right. It doesn’t necessarily have to be liked or approved of by anyone.

In the end, I have to answer to something higher than public opinion: my own conscience. And so long as I do that I’ll be able to sleep at peace with myself at night.

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Comments
  1. tbearly says:

    Michael,

    How refreshing it is to see someone actually taking their own (wise) advice.

    When it comes down to it, one’s conscience is the only real gauge of what is “the right thing to do,” as you’ve pointed out; all the rest is filler.

    Stay cool.

    -Tracy

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