The past week has been a whirl of headaches, stresses and traumas yet it has also been a week of new discoveries, self exploration and a rare joy ride into the sweet side of the human soul. You see, I told myself that the only way out of hell was to get a degree in something that might resemble job security even if it were a mundane spirit crushing job; it had to be better than my current circumstances. So I began the process of enrolling in a 2 year program and although I struggled to keep up with classes while staying alive and looking for better opportunities, I knew I was dying inside. Isn’t this what a good parent does, make sacrifices for her children regardless of how it affects her health, her mind, her overall well-being?
While I chased after a piece of paper that would tell people I am worth something I felt…empty. Is this what I really am? Is this who I want to be? Insomnia and migraines became constant companions I could not say no to yet I allowed them to make themselves comfortable because the rationalization was to put up with it because having a degree would be worth it, wouldn’t it?
Little by little, something has been happening to me. I noticed it when I walked the streets of Seattle talking to desperate people in desperate situations. I noticed it when taking the time to befriend an 85-year old street musician. I felt it when looking for the van people and counting how many souls slept in vans, cars and motor homes. I saw it in the eyes of children living in parking lots who didn’t know where they would be sleeping that night. Sometimes it stung in the face of careless comments and willful ignorance yet somehow always managed to ignite me in ways previously unknown and I am still on simmer.
When everything converged into a tangled mess of conflicted priorities and too many ifs, everything locked up inside me until……my path crossed that of another whose gentle words gave me clarity again. “What is it you want to do and what is it you need to do?” Even before those words were given, I already knew. Going to school to get a degree; that was what I wanted to do. Giving homeless people a voice when no one wants to hear them is what I NEED to do. Hearing the fragile voice of an 85-year old man living in a garage and wanting to die because he suffers from loneliness and thought the world had forgotten him turn into surprise and wonder because people he didn’t know read what I wrote about him and sent him letters is what I NEED to hear. Watching the interactions among the homeless themselves helping and supporting other homeless people is what I NEED to see. Reading about how dehumanized one man felt because no one wanted to touch a homeless man is what I NEED to know. Connecting with other people going through the same feelings of frustration, anxieties, guilt and anger is what I NEED to feel. Wanting to help a hardly normal guy run around the world filming the truth about homelessness and those who struggle with it every day and knowing it may turn out to be a thankless job but the rewards thus far are measured in humanity and not in gold so I keep on doing what I can even though I have no idea in the long run where this will lead to is where I NEED to be.
And so I begin the process of enrolling in a different program that isn’t taught at any institution nor does it require filling out forms for financial aid so that when you “graduate” you are eligible to repay that loan immediately. The classes I have chosen to take are in patience, diligence, compassion, perseverance, acceptance and a willingness not to judge. Actively pursuing real change is more than a full-time career yet I am willing to do it without pay because the alternative is to fall into the status quo of nothingness and rhetoric without action.
I am still pursuing a living wage but in the meantime I have to wage a life worth pursuing.