Yesterday I mentioned that it had been one year since the debut screening of the documentary film Suckerfish. More accurately I should have said that it had been 366 days. The reason is that this year we had a February 29th because of leap year. As a result, 366 days instead of 365 days. But, this isn’t the time to pick nits.
Today is another anniversary.
On March 6th, 2007 I woke up, crawled out from under the sleeping bags and blankets. After putting on a fresh shirt, I unzipped the tent "door" and headed out to face the day. One of my morning stops was the SLO Public Library to check my e-mail. After checking my e-mail I happened upon an online review of Suckerfish.
After reading the review – which mentioned me by name – I started to leave a comment. Unfortunately, my comment kept getting longer. In fact, it was 5 or 6 times longer than the review. So I cut the comment down to a few sentences and started this blog as my response.
It’s difficult for me to completely fathom that I’ve been writing this blog for a year. But I’m glad I have.
It has become a form of therapy. It’s helped me to cope with the many struggles, twists and turns of the experience of homelessness. It has allowed me to "scream out" at the top of my lungs when the frustration has become too great. Additionally, it has allowed me to ask questions of myself and others why we seemingly continue to sit back on our haunches when it comes to finding an effective solution to reduce the numbers of homeless in our community.
In that fashion, this blog has been good for me.
On the other hand, because of this blog I’ve done a tremendous amount of searching for and checking statistical data regarding homelessness in our nation. What I discovered has often times made it seem to me that ending homelessness was nothing more than a pipe dream.
Then, there were other times when a post I’d written was about a tragedy – such as a death – of one of the homeless I had met. Those were the hardest for me to write, but I wrote them nonetheless because they were a part of the experience of homelessness. And, after having written them I didn’t want to write anymore. But there I would be, the following day, writing another post.
As I said yesterday, there have been a lot of changes in my life since then. Most of them have been positive. There have been a number of disappointments, pitfalls and setbacks. But for some reason I’ve kept pressing on – even when I didn’t think I had the strength to do so.
In fact, there were a more than a few times when I just wanted to give up. But, then I’d take a look at some of the homeless I’d met who had given up on trying to get off of the streets. I didn’t want to be like that. I couldn’t imagine having to surrender to having to be homeless for the rest of my life. So I pressed forward as best I could. I don’t know if it was determination or whether I was just too dumb and stubborn to just give up.
All of that is neither here or there, however. I’m at the point in life where I am because of others who found it within themselves to invest of their compassion and kindness in me. They were – and still are – a source of strength and encouragement. And, they’ve done it without the expectation of anything in return.
It is a wonderful thing in life to have others care about what happens to you – even when they have no reason to. It is something within the very core of who they are.
It’s all the more remarkable because they don’t think of themselves as having done anything special. They view themselves as being just ordinary folk. But to this singular person, they are more than extraordinary.
It occurs to me that perhaps there are many more "regular folk" out there who are capable of the same. In fact, I’m certain of it. Yet, they never seem to rise to the occasion. They "almost give" but then for whatever reasons, they don’t follow through. They think about making a difference, but something interrupts them in the process.
Looking back over the past year and all of the changes I’ve been through I can see all of the pivotal moments. A good number of those times have been as a direct result of the intervention of others.
Looking back I also think of the homeless I’ve met and known who are still trying to find a way to become "housed" members of our community. I wonder what their lives might be now, if they had had someone who would have done more than just "almost give?"