Homelessness

40. A VERY SHORT STORY…..

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28. A CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE

Homeless person

I drive a lot these days and have since my early twenties. Some take the same familiar route daily while mine has always been all over the map. Years ago, in the early nineties, I drove from Port Angeles to Wenatchee, and from Olympia to Bellingham while living south of Seattle. From there I moved to Des Moines  and continued my travels in a larger  area that stretched from Kansas City to Lincoln to Cedar Rapids and sometimes beyond. Here in Denver I often commute up to one thousand miles in a week. While most of the country looks different wherever I go, some of the scenery sadly remains the same. It seems that no matter where I end up, there among the population is the face of our fellow man that suffers. Those in desperation eventually stand on the street corners of every city asking for a handout. They are more ignored than assisted, and they have lost the outlook that life is a gift, not a burden.

I must admit there was a time when I looked upon these “vagrants, bums, tramps, or beggars” with an attitude of indifference. I wished them no ill will, but I also felt that there were places other than the local intersection that could be of benefit to someone with the fortitude to brave the elements and take an obvious daily dose of  verbal abuse. My thoughts would always go in the same direction, “If these people could just focus the same energy on a slightly different life, then abundance would be forthcoming in ways they had only dreamed.” This opinion was coming from a man who was drinking constantly and had little to show for his efforts other than a messy apartment.

As time, and eventually sobriety strode on, my attitude toward this population softened, but for the most part it basically remained the same; that is until one day when I was listening to an audio program in my truck by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. He was narrating a time when he and some colleagues were walking through New Orléans and happened across a homeless girl. Dr. Dyer gave her a hundred dollars and offered further assistance which she declined. His friends had tried to talk him out of giving her anything to begin with, stating that he was enabling her by handing over something that would most likely be used for self-destructive purposes. Up to this point had I agreed with his opposition, and then he said something very significant; something that changed my life in an instant. What he said was basically this, “This act of giving, without judging who is asking for it, is not between me and them, it’s between me and God. What they do with this gift is none of my business.” This struck a chord with me and it made sense. All of the sudden I was turned completely around in my attitude.

That particular day I was stuck in traffic approaching a corner where a regular guy had stood for more than a year asking for handouts. He greeted his potential source of income with  a daily dose of positive energy; broadly smiling while waving  and flashing the peace sign at everyone as they passed by. I moved over to his side of the road and rolled down my window to hand him some money. This was the first time in my life I had actually felt like giving to a total stranger.

“What’s your name?” I said as I handed him a five.

“Brian!….Thanks!”

“You make me smile every time I see you. You may not believe this but a few years ago I was damn near in the same boat you’re in, so please don’t give up hope; I’m glad I didn’t.”

On my way home I stopped at a convenience store and bought some junk food along with a scratch ticket. I won a hundred dollars. I couldn’t stop laughing because the five I had given away was nothing to me, scrap paper in my pocket that, knowing me, would probably end up in the washing machine. Fast karma and a fast lesson. I carry ones with me now to spread the wealth, but the police are cracking down on panhandling more than they used to so my opportunities are much less than they were.

Over time I would talk to Brian and encourage without criticizing or preaching, but the day came when  he simply wasn’t there; and I waited. Six months went by and someone else eventually took over his spot. Finally I worked up the courage to ask the girl, whom I had gotten to know a little, if she knew what happened to him.

“Why yes! He’s off the streets now. Brian cleaned himself up and is working full-time.” As positive as I am, I was still stunned; flabbergasted actually. Wow! One in a thousand, maybe more. This news made my week. I was relieved he was ok. I’m sure he never knew but his resolve served to inspire me even further. If the opportunity to thank him in person ever arises I will do so with great enthusiasm.

When I look at these faces now all I see is a person of potential and someone who has misplaced a connection to the ability of re-creating and improving upon their best moment. Was it on some forgotten playground, as an innocent child lost in mindless play? Maybe it was their first kiss? Perhaps it was the time they first hugged their puppy knowing that this love would never go away? Maybe it was something as simple as watching a sunset. All of us have these types memories and most attempt to build on them, but some lose their way. If someone is standing on the street corner and asking for help, do they need help? The answer is ALWAYS yes. It’s never no. DO NOT ask yourself if you think they did it to themselves or not, it does not matter. As far as I’m concerned this observation is an inarguable point. Granted, the help they need may not be what they want, but they do need help. It’s sad that in a country like the United States, where there is more abundance in our gutters than there is in many other parts of the world, that there are people who are completely blind to what literally lies at their feet.

If we all come from the same place and are destined to end eventually up where we started, why must we insist on separating ourselves between these two events? Is it our duty of the spirit to bridge this gap and repair the rift that breeds selfishness and greed? It is at least for me, and I plan to continue proving by example that our connection to each other is the secret to a life of fulfillment and peace. What good is a life of prosperity if I never share it or at the very least, show others how I got there?

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

WELCOME TO SELF-HELP AND RECOVERY FOR BEGINNERS!

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For both men and women, knowing where to begin a better life can be overwhelming. I’m only the doorman to tomorrow. I can show you where to start, but I will not tell you where to go.

“…it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked.”

When I first set out to seek out new avenues and new sources for self-improvement, I made a trip to my local book store expecting to find exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t. I stood there facing several hundred choices wondering where to start. Surely someone had written a beginner’s guide, a square one launching point that wasn’t overwhelming. My goal was to find something not only easy to read, but informative and entertaining. I sought plain and straight forward instruction on how to move ahead in my life. I wanted a resource that would offer the basics and inspire me to continue researching whatever subject might stimulate my interest.  After thumbing through several dozen publications, I found out rather quickly my thirst for knowledge was being offered to me through a fire hose. There was no doubt every answer conceivable lay buried in the pages of the volumes I was wavering in front of, but the process of sifting through endless manuals to look for what appealed to me was not one I was eager to attempt. For the most part, each title addressed a specific topic, and that was fine, but my tastes were much more generalized. What I longed for, even though I didn’t know it at the time, were the right questions. Eventually, through trial and error, I became interested in specific authors, various subjects, and diverse teachings. Even though the road I chose was slow and treacherous, I never stopped progressing. There is, however, little doubt in my mind, I’d be a lot further along than I am now if it had been somewhat less intimidating. It is my opinion that the absence of an easy first step keeps many a wandered traveler from finding their way home.

There was a time when I was truly certifiable. I had nothing in my world that someone would have wanted in theirs. In 1995 I was drinking two-fifths of vodka a day. Since July 28th of that same year, I have been in recovery. As the years progressed, I worked on various elements of my character that needed nurturing. My health improved as did the rest of my personal life. Abundance flowed in, while misfortune waned. In the summer of 2007, came one of my biggest wake-up calls. I had hit the high mark of my weight–347 pounds. After committing to a weight loss program early in 2009, I lost over 105 pounds in six months without loss of energy or strength. I now tip the scales at an average of 220. I’ve had heat stroke, carbon monoxide poisoning, viral pneumonia, MRSA (staph infections), pulmonary embolisms, and car accidents. There are those who may use similar events to convince others how unlucky they are; I use them to prove how fortunate I am. I’ve survived these and other temporary setbacks with flying colors. If attitude is everything, then I’m the direct result of the resolute belief that life gets better every day.

My attempt with this blog is not to provide a goal, but rather an introduction. I’m not a scholar, nor am I a counselor. As a matter of fact, I’m a plumber; a blue-collar worker who has no problems getting his hands dirty and breaking a sweat for a living. Hopefully, my background will offer an approachable and relaxed alternative for those just starting out. I know it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked. I’ll never tell anyone where to go, but I’ll be glad to talk about where I’ve been and if you want to visit these places, I’ll simply point the way.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood