Elizabeth: Homeless, But Not Voiceless

Elizabeth: This is me outside of Mary's Kitchen in Orange.

Elizabeth: This is me outside of Mary’s Kitchen in Orange.

My earlier posts about spending time with Dave, 41, who lives under a bridge in Santa Ana, and J (who lives under the same bridge), have generated a lot of feedback.

I’m overwhelmed by your response, and see that many of you have a heart for the homeless.

Their stories seem to reach you in a tender spot.

Earlier today, Elizabeth contacted me via Facebook.

I’ve never met her, but she sent me a message that I found powerful and moving (included with her permission in its entirety below).

At present, she’s homeless — but certainly not without a voice.  

In her own words … Read more of this post

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Costa Mesa Homeless: My Time With Dave

I faced a choice: an older gentleman with a Santa-like beard, or a younger guy standing in the same place I met J a few weeks back (click here to read about that).  I decided on the younger guy.

Harbor Boulevard

Costa Mesa’s Harbor Boulevard, where I’ve met many new friends.

Aware that I might seem threatening, I took off my sunglasses, pulled my hands out of my pockets, and walked over.

He looked in my direction when I stepped off the curb.  This is always the point where my insecurities start flying.

He probably doesn’t want to talk to you” or “Just leave him alone, you don’t have anything to offer.” Read more of this post

The Difference: Problems of Opportunity v. Problems of Existence

Since I met “J” (who is homeless and lives under a bridge), I’ve taken to using a mental image of him to help me get over myself.

Here’s what I mean:  During this morning’s drive to work, I contemplated a number of issues facing us at home and at work.  I’m sure you have a similar list of concerns, worries, and irritations.

I suddenly realized that most (if not all) of my problems are born out of opportunity  — whereas J’s problems (and those faced by billions) are existential problems.

What’s the difference?  A problem born out of opportunity is one like, “Should my wife go back to work, or stay home with our daughter?“, whereas an existential problem is one that threatens our existence.  For example, “What will I eat or feed my children today?

In other words, what I perceive to be problems are situations brought about by the fact that I’m blessed — not a victim.

Let’s break down the problem of opportunity (Should my wife go back to work, or stay home with our daughter?) into its component blessings:

  • Blessing: I have a beautiful wife (and she chose to marry me); she’s also healthy!
  • Blessing: My wife has a great job (not everyone has a job)
  • Blessing: My wife’s job is waiting for her (not always the case)
  • Blessing: We have a home (certainly not always the case)
  • Blessing: We have a healthy daughter (not every child is healthy — plus, not everyone is able to have kids!)

Broken apart in this way, my problem is composed of multiple blessings that bring about additional situations to consider — but unlike the problems faced by others in this world, none are life threatening.

They’re merely by-products of having opportunities.  Why is it so hard to remember this?

I challenge you to name a problem you’re facing.  Next, list the blessings your challenge is born from.  Does your perspective change?  

What’s The Difference Between You and J?

This is where I met J.

This is where I met J.

As I hugged him, I could see he was crying.  He kept saying, “Man, I’m so tired.  I’m really just so tired…I just want to rest.”

All I could think of to say was, “I know.  It’s ok.  I know.

But really, I’m lying. I have no idea.

And so do very few of the people passing us on either side, as they make their way to and fro within the Target parking lot.  For a brief moment, I forget about them, and what they might be thinking, as I just let this man cry.

In an hour and a half, this 44-year old man I’ll call “J” shared his story with me.  Of how little by little, he crept closer and closer to the streets, until finally he found himself living under a bridge in a nearby city. Read more of this post

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