Who Have You Helped Today?: How Long Did It Take You To Answer That Question?


Courtesy SF Chronicle Brant Ward

It’s the holiday season and one simple question hit me as I sit here watching a homeless man grope for a piece of dignity: Have I helped anyone today? This homeless man is in his 30’s but easily looks older than my 47 years, his eyes have the far away look of resolve in the fact that he has nothing to look forward to or anyone to care for in this season. He is wearing a black bandanna, dirty khaki pants, a torn sweat stained prison grey shirt, and a pair of very old running shoes that have never been used for fitness.

His hair is a straggly mop of dark brown and he has a full beard with nary a gray hair to be seen. I can’t count the number of piercings because there seems to be holes everywhere–man made in nature. He is doing his best to chain smoke “half butts” found on the ground or in a trash can all the while he is holding a conversation with sympathetic passerby.

His body language screams junkie but it could be the simple by-product of the horror of living without heat, running water, or a roof over your head. It could be the result of a street fight, or 10, for survival when the mere presence on a street corner can spell trouble in the form of a shank or worse. It is a hunched over sitting position, not unlike a prison yard crouch, similar to that of someone trying desperately to look tough and invisible all at once.

Just as quickly as his entrance into my vision of life, my unknown friend wanders off quickly carry-on suitcase with rollers dragged behind as he leaves the scene-a reminder of how damn lucky I am and how wonderful my life is in comparison.

If you are still reading then you are ready for my point. It is not my intention to make you remember how lucky you are with the things you take for granted. It is not a point that illustrates the plight of the homeless, loneliness, starvation, drug addiction, or violence that accompanies that existence.

MY POINT IS SIMPLE: WE FAIL TO PAY ATTENTION, WE FAIL TO NOTICE, WE FAIL TO OBSERVE, AND WE FAIL TO MAKE NOTE OF THE WORLD AROUND US. How tough would it be for you to stop allowing yourself the excuses or “outs” of NOT paying attention? How tough would it be to designate ONE aka 1 day in your life where you noticed everything, paid attention to everything within your vision of life, noticed all that came into view, observed everything, and made note of the world around you??????????????????????????????????????????????????????

If these faces bother you then take notice and do something. Courtesy of stoneth on flickr.com this man is an artist:



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