James Downs

July 19th, 2015 by admin

ONE STORY OF HOMELESSNESS In an online discussion about donating to the homeless, I waited to see if any other people who had been homeless in their life responded. I find it fascinating that we as a species make judgements without even asking what that person's experience has been. I like the person who separates their giving from the person's use of it. . So now I will say that due to circumstances out of my control, I ended up on the street for ten months of my life. I didn't want nor did I try to get there. But my mentality did change once I did. Your mind ratchets down until your entire focus is surviving. Large thoughts of philosophy fly out the window. A roof or a cardboard box over your head and donated food become who you are. Any little donated amenity just helps you get through the day. I never asked for money of anyone, but it was fascinating in retrospect how many people would pass you when you are, say, sitting on a building dock and actually turn their heads so they would not have to look at you. . If you have any activity, it is just in your mind...or you may go canning (I did not). But you remain shallow...depth implies safety...and it is not safe out on those streets. In those 10 months I saw more drug deals and prostitution deals go down around me then the rest of my life combined. . If you were lucky to find a mission for a night's sleep (I did part of the time), it was not necessarily safe. You slept "with one eye open." And for logistical reasons, the rules were demeaning...kind of like you are a number, not an individual. And the sermon a day was meant as a good thing, but it really didn't help. . There are so many more out there these days that did not ask to get there. Yes, there are those that cannot handle the regular society and hold on to staying there. But I bet you, most of them did not ask to get there. Consider also the mother and kids now on the street to avoid the danger of an abusive husband/father. So many different examples and reasons you can find out there. . I was luckier, way luckier, than most. My family had been looking for me the whole ten months. Once I got my head in a more lucid planning type mode, I had a sister I could call...who jumped in her car and came to get me. I stayed with her and her husband. But even then, it took months to decompress...you can immediately take a person out of the street if you are compassionate enough to do so, but it is much harder to take the street out of the person. . Here I am 15 years later, with a wife and a home and step kids and grandkids...I am one of the lucky ones. But I am sure that I am a much more compassionate person than I was before and have an understanding, just a little, of what my fellow human goes through. I will never wish what I went through on anyone. But I learned a lot from having done so. . ~~James Downs

Tags: Essay, James Downs,

Posted in: Uncategorized, Poets Comment into the World,