The Recognizable Homeless

News-and-Society I think the title of this entry speaks for itself. I’ve realized that there are a handful of homeless people in New York that I actually recognize. Determined by neighborhoods or train lines that I’m in. Last night, I had an unusual encounter with a man that can often be found in Tribeca. He looks to be about middle-aged, he’s probably 6 ft something, black ethnicity, and he most likely suffers from schizophrenia. Once upon a time, I imagine this person was a very capable human being. Before I share the details, I want to mention the atmosphere surrounding giving food or money to the homeless. When I think of the word homeless, the first thing I actually think about is giving. Not on any particularly moral grounds. It’s more because when the word is mentioned it is seems to usually be followed by some sort of giving back theme and/or just a story with a negative connotation behind it. The latter can be the prerequisite of ‘guilt giving. (The story is sad, and my life isn’t that sad, I should probably give something back, translation–give). In my case the giving experience to the homeless has usually manifested into two practical forms. Money and food. And unfortunately giving either has never been life-changing. When I give money I wonder if the person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, then worry if they are going to use my money to buy it! Then there’s the giving of food. Which can leave just as bitter a taste in your mouth. For instance, true story here. A while back, there was this homeless man on the train, and he was begging for extra food people may have with them. I happened to have a fresh salad with me. Now I’m not a twit, I wouldn’t give a hungry man just lettuce! This salad was pretty decked out! It had grilled chicken mixed with shrimp, there were croutons, eggs, and dressing. This thing was going to be lunch for two. Anyways, I wave him over, and hand him the salad, this guy looks at me shocked and pissed and yells, "I don’t like salad! And I don’t like fish!" It’s a no wonder I and a large portion of New York City have rather ambivalent feelings when it comes to directly getting involved in ‘giving’ to those who are severely homeless. Since, it has been awhile since I have had a really positive experience with this type of human encounter, I want to share a realization I had that, while may appear idealistic, is not at all trivial…it is compassion! Life in New York, or anywhere for that matter, can be so rough, and it’s difficult for someone else’s problems to be so in your face, that it’s easier to just walk past and pretend you didn’t see it. Out of sight out of mind as they say. But last night, I saw the reality of a man I never cared to know. A person who has psychotic attacks on the subway platform. Who’s legs apparently give out that he literally crawls on the ground. Who spends hours a day sitting outside of a Starbucks with a walkman. Who when appearing stable is content to remain to himself. I wanted to get rid of half a turkey sandwich I couldn’t finish. I popped into the subway to find this man sitting on the stairs to avoid the cold. I asked if he would like the sandwich. …His eyes set sight on the sandwich first, lit up with not hope but need and somewhat controlled desperation. And he reached up at the sandwich like a child. Being an actor and a yogi, this for me was one of those genuine and rare points in time where I was poised and open instinctively to the moment. It was perplexing to suddenly realize that even I can cast aside the fact that a small effort can make a powerful difference immediately. The result at the very worst could be I’ll be annoyed–but such is life, it happens. At the very best, one less person will be hungry! Imagine how many people could be fed for a night if say, one in four made just that small of an effort. Think of the effect that could have inspiring someone who still has hope for themselves, or giving a genuinely good memory to a person who is past hope. Examining the bigger picture, who is anyone to judge. And who deserves to be hungry. That is a terrible reality. And to even help one person keep their stomach full for the next four or so hours, is a gift. Is it enough, well of course not. But at least it’s a start in the right direction. About the Author: 相关的主题文章: