One Week

I’m indecisive about wether I want to write about this, or not. Theres a fine blurry line between staying humble, and inspiring others to follow after you, in your generous endeavors.

I have decided to write about it anyways (at risk of appearing boastful) as a means of documentation. Later I can look back on this post, and this day, and remember both where I came from, and what type of person I was. May my future self be proud.

I’ll open with some background on me, I do not make a lot of money. I make enough to get by, plus maybe a little extra. Since I don’t have debt from school or anything else, any extra money from the paycheck (or tax returns more likely) goes into my small savings account I set up a few years ago. Assuming its not eaten alive by bills and life itself.

Today I felt led, as I often do, to reach out to someone in need. I was extremely hesitant, as I always am. Not that money is an issue for me, or that I am afraid to help people. But seeing someone on a street corner, I can only wonder, by giving them money am I enabling them? This can seem like a cruel thought, but consider with me the possibilities.

This man or woman, might have been offered real work they turned down, or they have a full time job, but make more money on the street corner. Perhaps they’re not exactly homeless, they just struggle paying the bills with their alcohol addiction, or other substance abuse. I look at a full grown man, and can’t help but think:¬†If he has a job, he might make just as much money as I do.. in which case, giving him twenty dollars is just enabling his tobacco addiction..¬†¬†Then I just want to walk up and tell them, we all have difficult lives! Own up to your mistakes and fix them! Stop begging for handouts!

While I am sure there are probably people on street corners begging for really bad reasons, it is never up to me to judge them.

Regardless, I don’t like just handing out money to someone, for them to potentially spend it on another pack of cigarettes.

I am a God fearing man however, and when that tiny little voice, dominates my thoughts and asks:¬†Are you really going to argue about this with me?..¬†As I sit in my warm car in the pouring rain, watching other people drive by this (no doubt, confused) soul on the sidewalk…

I must listen.

“What do you need”?

Is what I was told to ask them, with no promise of any return.

“I’m just curious”.

I backed up my statement with a cover phrase of innocence. I awaited a shady response, a skeptical stare. The inquiry of: Why do you care what I need money for? 

None of which I received.

The back of their cardboard sign, upside down, read: Smile.

Clearly these people had done this before.

You know, when you’re nervous for something?

And then as soon as it starts, the nerves go away?

Your adrenaline suddenly does what it’s supposed to?

Everything sorta falls into place.. and it just feels right?

Yes.

“Food for the week, and oil.”

She responded.

I was so happy with the straight honest answer she gave me. No scent of alcohol on her tongue. I went on to ask if they had jobs, Her and the man, who I later learned was her husband. He did, sorta. Small jobs whenever he could get them. She was trying to collect disability again, for the scoliosis she had been born with, along with other illnesses I do not remember. She had held jobs before, just not recently. They live in a tent, in the field behind the store. The store that owned the parking by which they sat.

I offered to take them to the store. Told them I would buy them whatever they needed.

They obliged.

I found it beautiful, almost poetic, the first thing they went for, in all the store, was oil.

Not car oil, like I first assumed. Lamp Oil. They have an oil lamp. It heats their tent, and provides light when needed. Next to the oil was a broad selection of candles. Upon Her request, He grabbed two of those tall skinny ‘Jesus Candles’.. The Catholic looking ones, with angels and the virgin Mary printed on the side. They grabbed two matching ones with, the Son of God himself printed thereon, and put Jesus in the cart next to the oil.

After Jesus and Oil, they took me to the food section, and filled my cart with a weeks worth of the cheapest TV dinners in the store. I had told them I would buy them whatever they needed, and they gathered the bare minimum, spare the pack of almond joys, for which she apologized. I told her not to worry, if anyone understands the need for candy, it’s me.

Seriously though, the cheapest food items.

TV dinners.. dehydrated noodles.. off-brand soda..

Granted, what else do you eat when you don’t have a place to cook a full meal, and you don’t own a fridge, but still.. I offered to buy them whatever they needed.

Whatever.. they needed.

Dehydrated noodles.

They were ready to check out, but it was just after noon. I told them to get something hot and fresh for that moment. We went to the deli, and they got a Tub of diced vegetables, roast chicken, and potato wedges. While they stood there, deciding what they wanted to eat, the lady behind the counter asked if she could help me, instead.

“I’m with them”.

I said with a smile.

She was a little bit shocked, but the look on her face showed: she knew what was going on, with me and them, but was done making assumptions.

I was standing there in a cotton Owl City v-neck, crisp dark blue skinny jeans, a clean black snapback, and a timbuk2 man-purse.

They were both very clearly off the street corner. Torn pants, old shoes, faded winter coats, and hats, completely soaked through.

In line to check out, The man asked if he could put batteries in the cart.

I said, “Absolutely.”

They were so joyful.

“We have flashlights with no batteries”.

She said.

I believer her. They light their tent with an oil lamp.

The roast chicken from the deli, had not been properly tagged. The clerk gave it to us for free.

“Maybe God is with us”.

She said.

They were honestly two of the most polite people I have met. They thanked everyone they spoke too. They were extremely grateful. They were kind.

Thirty Six dollars.

I spend more than that, on a weeks worth of food, for myself..

..and that doesn’t include batteries, or lamp oil, or Jesus Candles.

Before I left them, after checking out, they went to eat their fresh food at the indoor seating area next to the deli.

I approached her with a twenty dollar bill.

I told her life is temporary.

I told her, when you believe in God, an eternity awaits us.

I told her I would pray for them.

I told her to stay out of the cold, have a great rest of the week, and I hope Jesus Blesses you.

She said: “He already has”.

She wiped tears from her eyes, and just stared, with nothing more to say than Thank you.

I told her, “God bless you”.

As I started to leave, He waved at me and said:

“God bless you too”.

I turned around and pointed at them both, to confirm I knew their names.

“Crystal.. and Jesse?..¬†Excellent.”

I said with a smile as I walked away.

Several strangers looked on, completely and utterly dumbfounded.

It was fantastic.

If you made it this far, Reader, welcome to the closing.

If all it takes is fifty six dollars, to change someones life forever, even if the initial joy only lasts for that day; it’s worth it.

It’s fifty six dollars I would have spent on sour patch kids, or an extra coffee, or something pointless on amazon.

But having someone brought to tears..

Showing them, at the lowest point in their life, that¬†someone¬†cares…

…Nothing is more beautiful.

I told her:

“I have never been in your shoes;

but, I would like to think if I was,

someone else would do the same”

So I ask you.. Reader..

If you lost, everything..

Could you survive a week, with nothing more, than what you’ve given this past year?

I would like to think I could. 

Layers

I awoke again today, with that feeling. Why am I here?

Today it was less of a depressing feeling, and more of an unproductive feeling. Friday and Saturday night I was housesitting for my brother’s in-laws. I spent two nights, and one day there.

I went to sleep early friday, and woke up in good time on Saturday. After taking care of the pets, I made a run for donuts and coffee. I played videogames most the morning, was messing around on the piano for part of the afternoon. I ordered a large pizza, and watched a two hour movie on Netflix. I played more videogames again in the evening, in a Skype call with my friends. I fed and let out the animals again in the evening, and then laid in bed on Youtube until i went to sleep again, early.

Nobody robbed the house, It’s clean, and the animals are all fed and happy.

But other than that, I did nothing productive. I sat around by myself, enjoying not having much of anything to do. I slept a lot, and it was refreshing.

Today..

My back has hurt since I woke up. I had no plans. I did not make it to church. I had spent all Saturday in a pair of sweats. I did not have a change of clothes, and though I could have; I did not feel like going to church in what are essentially, my pajamas. I tidy’d up the house, packed up my computer, and went home. Made myself coffee, and played more videogames.

But why am I here?

Saturday was my day off. Saturday was relaxing, and easy. Saturday was an excuse to not do anything. But it’s sunday. I could literally be out saving lives, and instead i’m sitting in my pajamas, playing videogames.

Why am I here?

This is not a cry for help. This is not me, telling you I’m depressed. I am actually in a pretty good mood. It snowed last night, I’ve been listening to Christmas music off and on all week. I have all next week off work. I might roadtrip to the coast, just to get out of town. Life is good.

But today..?

I changed clothes. I packed my computer. I’m at the Library.

I need to write. I need to move along in my book. I need to vent. I would eat myself alive, if I sat at home all day.

When..

I could change lives.

 

Friday evening.

I stopped by Staples, the office supply store, to pick up some documents I had ordered to be printed. They were ready to be picked up, and it was a good time for me, because I was on my way to go house sit. After leaving Staples, I got in my car to grab some food. A KFC around the corner was a quick and easy option, so I got in my car and began heading over. I didn’t make it out of the parking lot.

She sat in the light of the entryway, outside the grocery store. One door down from Staples. Hands in her lap, back against the wall, legs straight out in front.

Her eyes were the only inch of skin to be seen, as they stared off into the nothingness before her, that was the entire world.

As I rolled by in my car she seemed to stare right through me.

I pulled over. I didn’t hesitate. From inside my chest, my heart made an executive decision. My mind knows not to argue with my heart, when my heart sets its own eyes before me.

“Excuse me, do you need something to eat?”

I asked her, self conscious about my appearance, to her, and anyone else looking on. She did, in fact, want something to eat. She agreed KFC was an ok option. She asked if we were walking, or driving, and wanted to know if I could bring her right back to her current spot. I told her we were driving, and yes, I could bring her back. She picked up her sleeping bag, and followed me to my car.

I told her she could get anything off the menu.

Five Dollars. That was it.

I went and took a seat before her and told her we could sit in the restaurant and eat, but that I would take her back as soon as she wanted.

She sat one table away from mine. There was space at my table, but she sat away from me. She did not want to annoy me. She did not want Me, to have to be seen eating with her. I allowed her the space she gave herself, while we ate, but I finished my meal and moved to her table. We sat there in silence.

Even inside the building, she did not take off any layers of clothing. Not even a hood. Which, at first does not sound weird. But I was wearing a t-shirt, and a jacket. I was comfortable.

She however, had on: A wool turtle neck, under a cotton hooded sweatshirt, under a fleece jacket, under a zip up hoodie, under another fleece jacket. With a beanie, and both hoods over her head. Beside her, was her sleeping bag, stuffed into a small canvas bag.

I caught her name, and found out she was Fifty Eight years old. I tried striking small conversation but she did not seem interested in talking.

I would have liked to know..

Are you actually homeless? Do you have family? How long have you been in this area? Is this all you own? Is there anything you need?

She didn’t talk.

I asked her what kind of music she liked, to which she responded:

“Oh you know.. I like just about anything. Whatever they play.”

Which I took as a generic response for:

I never really have the chance to listen to music enough to know what i like.

While we sat in the restaurant in silence, another older lady came in. She wore a cute cold weather sweater. She had a man and another woman with her. They all looked like they were in their Fifties and Sixties. They were all smiles.

I thought to myself, comparing and contrasting the two women around me.

These could very well be the same two women, under two different realities.

The thin, Grey, 58 year old homeless woman, wearing a dozen layers of clothing, with nothing to carry but a sleeping bag.

The thin, Grey, 58 year old wealthy woman, wearing a cute little wool sweater, and too much at home, to carry into town for dinner.

Where in their lives, did they make the different choices they did, to get where they are today?

Was it even a matter of mistakes? Was one born into a well connected family with happy jobs and healthy genes?

Was the other born alone?

Where was this poor woman’s family?

I don’t know what would be worse..

Finding out she has family, and they do nothing to care for her(?)

or Finding out she has no family to even attempt carrying for her at all..

 

When I dropped her back off at the grocery store, she returned to the spot i found her, and leaned up against the wall. She dropped the sleeping bag to her side, and was motionless. I wished her a Merry Christmas, and lifted a prayer.

But I left her there. longing.

Her and I both.

There was nothing I could have done to fix her. I could not change her past. I could not clear her mind. I could not extend warmth. I could not extend joy. I could not line out her future.

All I could do was provide a meal, and show her: at least on person cares.

To me.. That did not feel like enough. Though, I am told, that is all I needed to do.

When I picked her up she was sitting, and when I left her there again, she was standing. Maybe that’s all that matters.

If if could raid the world, and raise to their feet, everyone sitting down.. I would do it.

Life is too short to sit at home, and melt away.

Perhaps, one day; I will be at a place in my own life, where I can do more in others.

 

 

Forever strive.

Change lives.

 

 

Not an “about me” page.

When i awoke this morning, after the 9 hours of sleep which followed my Incredible Thanksgiving, I was depressed, and tired. My mind ached, and i was hungry (for more than just food).

I would explain what my Thanksgiving consisted of, and what all made it so spectacular, but that is irrelevant. All you need to know, is my Thanksgiving was an amazing day of great food and fellowship with my family and many friends. My thanksgiving ended with me in bed at 11:00pm feeling full of love and great food. I slept until 8:00am and woke up the the sun breaking through the curtains on my bedroom windows, with 3 more days free of work..

But, this morning I awoke to the sun, and my mind, to my surprise, went:

“…ggghhhaaaaaa…. why am i here?..”

And immediately I scolded myself like my mind was a spoiled child on the car ride home from Disneyland, on Christmas break. Like Yesterday was so amazing, and i have 3 days ahead of me with no homework, what could i possible be upset about?

To this hour, at 5:30pm, i have no idea what caused such discontentment.

I feel much better now though. Let me explain.

I woke depressed. I didn’t shower. I rolled downstairs and jumped on my computer. I grabbed a cookie from the day before, and I played videogames for 2 hours. Often times a bit of ‘relax and enjoy doing nothing’ is all i need to sorta lighten a bad mood, but this morning it didn’t help.

I shut my computer, and took a shower. I texted my mom about a pair of pants she wanted me to try on before she bought them, for me, for christmas. I put on my favorite pair of skinny jeans. I played my favorite music.

My mind went: “..ghhaaaa… why am i here?..”

I opted to visit my mom and sister, who took me out to lunch.

We stopped by the store. I tried on the clothes. I picked out the correct size. I watched my mom pay for them right then and there. We ate at cheap restaurant, and my mom bought me the most expensive meal on the menu. Her and my sister were all smiles. They were going shopping for the rest of the day, and had plans for a movie later in the evening.

I was welcome to come along.

My mind went: “…ghhaaaaaaaa……. why am i here?..”

I told them: “Im just really tired. Thanks, but no thanks”.

(Not a lie… not the full truth).

I left, to go home. I planned on sleeping the rest of the day away, and maybe playing some videogames again in the evening. So i drove away.

 

Here’s where my day began to turn around

 

I got half way home, playing some of my favorite somber songs.

One song in particular spoke to my soul..

*And I begin to envy the headlights driving south
I want to crack the door so I can just fall out
But then I remember when you packed my car
You reached in the back and buckled up your heart

For me to drive away with
I began to understand
Why God died

Following that verse, is a happy little drum beat, alongside a sad little melody..  my heart burned.

I bobbed my head, turned it up, and started the song over from the beginning.. because who am I, and how dare I?

Who am I to ask: “Why am I here”?

This day is not an ‘About Me’ Page. No day, is an ‘About Me’ Page.

The right turn was towards home, but I turned left.

I ran to the grocery store on a whim and spent a little money on some minor grocery items I was in need of. My laptop was in my car, so I made the conscious decision; after the grocery store I was going to stop by the library and write in my book. Today needed something productive. Today needed something more than just me.

As i left the grocery store.. i stopped my car in the middle of the lane, at the sight of a middle aged mexican man. He was obese, and struggled to walk. He was loading groceries in his tiny little ghetto car. There was an elderly woman riding shotgun, and an eight foot 2×4 sticking out the back window. This man had his calloused legs wrapped, and was apparently Ill beyond his obesity. Yet, somehow, all things considered, this man seemed entirely content with his life and well being.

So, stepping from my car, I approached this man. I handed him a twenty dollar bill. Shook his hand, wished him a great holiday season, and told him God Bless.

I got back in my car and drove away before he could say anything more than: “Thank you, you too”.

Driving away, I smiled.

You reached in the back and buckled up your heart
For me to drive away with
I began to understand
Why God died

Life is not an ‘About Me’ page.

I worked on my book for an hour and a half at the local library. I wrote the first two pages of chapter 11, and felt like i really accomplished something for the day.

As I walked toward the front door of the library, on my way out, I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill. It belonged in my man purse, not in my pocket. I would surely lose it.

I did not, for one second, hesitate.

Without stopping for a moment, I dropped the five dollars in the lap of an unsuspecting young man sitting in a chair on the edge of the hallway. I didn’t lock eye contact. I didn’t tell him my name. I didn’t look back. I had headphones in, so I didn’t listen.

I didn’t want to hear “thank you”. I didnt want to hear “come back”.

I walked out without a word, and this young man is now five dollars richer, and I’m glad.

Love is not an ‘About Me’ page.

Ultimately, this day has brought me here.¬†I am home, 25 dollars short, and¬†I couldn’t be more happy, with 25 dollars spent.¬†

Because what is life, if lived only for ones self?

It is certainly not a life, full.

It is certainly not love.

So to that, there is no About Me page.

This blog is about you.

**twenty √łne pil√łts – A Car, A Torch, A Death