I grew up being told that I was special and that I could be anything I wanted to be. I ended up being what no-one expected me to be: homeless. It’s a horrible thing from what I’ve heard. That’s what I thought in the beginning too. Few people want to help you out and many ignore you. You can ask for money for hours and it’s my experience that the vast majority either doesn’t want to give away their money or they think that you’re not really homeless. In either case, you don’t get much. But you’ll get a dollar here and there; enough to get around. Or well, enough to stay alive.
What nobody ever tells you is that you’ll have all the time in the world to take a good look at all the beauty that nature offers so generously. I used to focus on what people did and the things that annoyed me. I was blind. Being homeless didn’t necessarily open my eyes, but it did give me the time and lack of distraction that I needed. I never gazed at the sky. I mean, I remember spending countless hours watching at the sky during my childhood, but somehow the magic disappeared… or so I thought. The magic is still there, but my mind was always too busy to recognize it. Things were expected of me, there were always things to do and I was never living a satisfactory life. The truth is, I never allowed for anything to make me happy. I focused on the emptiness I felt. I was foolish to believe that I would achieve happiness focusing on all that was wrong with my life. There’s always going to be a negative aspect if that’s what you’re looking for; even if you do that subconsciously.
I see hundreds of people passing by on a daily basis and it’s hard to ignore the fear, sadness, stress and frustration they express. And I can’t help but wonder, “Why does it have to be like this?” The truth is, it doesn’t have to. Whether they realize it or not, people choose to focus on the negative things. Of course, that’s just how they were raised and because of the things they went through. So no, I don’t blame them. And I really can’t, because I know how tough it is out there. Yet, despite all of their hardships, some people still offer me a genuine smile. You can just feel that something deep within them acknowledges you fully. It’s a beautiful feeling. And the thing is, many of those smiles come from complete strangers; people that haven’t even seen me once. That never fails to amaze me.
Then there are the moments when people hesitantly hand me a dollar or two. Some are really generous too. I always thank them, but I don’t think they comprehend how much it means to me. They don’t know where their money is going. I could be scamming them or trying to rob them for all they know. However, they choose to give me the benefit of the doubt. They choose to put their faith in not only me, but the world. They want to believe that everybody’s good deep down inside. It’s a beautiful thing. Naturally, you can’t trust everyone, but they don’t allow that fact to ruin their hope and trust. I do believe that everybody’s good deep down inside. No matter how deep inside you have to dig, there’s good within you. And more importantly, there’s happiness within your deepest core too. Really, it doesn’t matter how depressed or angry you are; if you seek deep enough within yourself, you will find bliss.
I know that to be a fact. I was diagnosed with cancer six years ago. Evidently, I’m still around, but I lost everything else; even my family. I was lost emotionally. I had built up so much anger, fear and confusion, that I had a pretty serious meltdown… so no, I don’t blame them. I regret what happened, although I never got a chance to say sorry. Everything happened so fast and before I realized it, I was out on the streets with nobody to turn to. If I wasn’t already broken to the core, then becoming homeless surely did the trick. At that point, you don’t even care how much worse things can get. The fear and anger seemed to fade and I was left with an empty heart. I didn’t care for anything anymore. Why should I? I didn’t even feel anything anymore. I didn’t even care when someone tried to help me. There was this man that came every day with water bottles and homemade meals to insist that I would eat and drink. I didn’t want to, but I wanted to be left alone, so I’d eat and drink as quick as I could. It was a lousy reason, but it saved my life… he saved my life. I didn’t realize until later, but something within me recognized the beauty within him. I simply woke up one morning with the revelation that beauty is everywhere and in everyone. I don’t think I was ever truly alive before.
It’s ironic how things turned out. I was miserable when I was self-sustaining and I’m as happy as I’ll ever be now that I’m homeless. I just wish I could make you feel my bliss… your bliss if only you look deep enough.
Copyright ©2015 Didier Strijdonk