Whatever you throw away

Throw Away by Kaze Gadway


People ask me if I have a favorite story in our book Everyday Wonder by Kaze Gadway and Priscilla H. Wilson. My favorite story changes but I have a favorite line.

The story called Sliver of Hope takes place in the Indian village of Sevegram when a child follows me. After telling him I do not have money he says “Memsahib, I am only waiting for whatever you throw away.”


That still brings an ache to my throat. So much poverty surrounds me with such low expectations.


When I hand out water to street people in Albuquerque, I feel the same ache. Or when someone whispers to me “Do you have any socks?”


Lately I have had a lot of money problems with my computer and car breaking down. I can’t get excited about having to tighten my belt economically. The outworn and useless stuff I have in my apartment could feed a village.


“I only want whatever you throw away” reverberates through my being. My garbage is useful to those who are hungry.


Even if I dress poor and buy little beyond the basics, I am still the One percent to the developing

nations and most likely to the ones I see on the street.

Compassion grows from such small interactions.

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Jeremy Blackwater Maybe a Spark

Maybe A Spark

Jeremy Blackwater

 

Dull eyes stare

In empty space.

I throw out questions.

Hoping to rope in interest.

 

My ears stretch wide

To catch muted murmurings

Not even a quiver

From my wilted students.

 

I look out the window,

Watching a leaf float down.

My heart jumps in gratitude

I smile inside out.

 

Andy follows my eyes.

“What’s so funny?”

“The tree told me to watch,

So I did,” I said.

 

No one said “What?”

They looked at the tree

With kind eyes.

Some went inside to see.

 

At last, the spark of something

Raced across the classroom.

It wasn’t the daily lesson.

It was something more important.

                                                                                                                                 

Something pulled them in.

It was not me.

Inside and out draws us.

The only way to learn.

 

Even if it makes me uncomfortable.

 

 

 

Black Eye

A Few Moments by Kaze
“How did you get your black eye?” I ask.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Helen responds. “My boyfriend wanted me to go get him some food and I didn’t want to get up. It’s hard to sleep on the street and I was warm. We had a fight.”
“Are you okay? They can help you at the Health Center for the Homeless with your bruises.” I say.
“No, I’m okay but I am afraid. They won’t let us sleep in so many places now. We are not sure where to go anymore,” she says. “But I’m all right.”
This is called minimizing. It is a defense mechanism for those who are abused to make it possible to go on without loss of pride. I repeated some neutral statements, gave her a bottle of water.
I was surprised when she says “Thank you for listening to me. I’m not used to that.”
So once again, the small gesture of taking a few moments to talk to those who are outcasts returns with manifold blessings.

 

Eyes

Eyes by Kaze Gadway
The young woman keeps looking around her and then back to my face.
“Are you okay?” I ask, careful to not make any sudden moves.
“I keep seeing them,” she says. She is sitting up with her blankets piled around her along with many other street people on the sidewalk.
“They are there, just waiting to hurt me,” she whispers.
The woman next to her says loudly “Go away eyes, don’t bother us.” She then turns to the woman and says, “See, they are gone. You can go back to sleep.”
With that, the young woman takes a deep breath and lies down.
I don’t ask her if she is taking her meds. So many on the streets complain about becoming a zombie with meds and they don’t like the feeling of being empty.
There are agencies I can talk to but I already know what they are going to say, “There are so many mentally ill on the streets. We can’t force them to get help. There is nothing we can do.”
So I talk to those who can do a little and give her a name and description.
Meanwhile, I am so thankful that someone on the street can give her temporary but immediate relief from the eyes.
We are all dependent upon each other, especially for kindness.

Why Stay?

Why? By Kaze Gadway
Some street people made some harsh comments to me which I shrugged off. A young woman asks me: “Why don’t you quit? I wouldn’t keep coming around if people were so mean about it?”
I am taken aback because I know that abuse is her constant companion. “There are mean people everywhere but I like talking with people who talk about basic things and aren’t consumed by greed. I enjoy it here.”
She is taken aback. Then she turns her head and says to empty space. “That’s the first time I’ve heard someone talking nice about us.”
And so it goes.
We all want affirmation that our very existence is valued.

 

How

  • How? By Kaze Gadway

    On the way home from a day out at the zoo, I stop by Iron and 2nd Street, a popular sidewalk for the sleeping men and women. . I stop to chat with one of my friends who is trying to get some shade from a very skinny tree.

    “How are you going to make it through these humid days in July?” I ask.

    “I just go in and out of buildings with air conditioners until they run me out. Sometimes I can stay inside for like five minutes. If I have some change, I will try to buy a bottle of water. Since I don’t have enough, we stand and talk about how much more I need and sometimes I can get cool before I have to leave. I can only do this if there are no customers waiting. Or I can get in a long line and then not have money when I get to the front. Sometimes I can stretch my inside time to ten minutes. Sometimes they give me the water but I rather be inside where it is cool.”
    I realized that (although he is creative) I wanted to know more than how he copes; I want to know how he is sustained.

    How does he stay comfortable with himself as a meaningful and valuable person, looking forward to growing and enjoying his life?

    When I worked daily with Native youth in dysfunctional situations, I saw how immediate apprehension for survival, for eating and escaping violence, became their only preoccupation. So it is for many on the streets. They do not have the leisure time to focus on enjoyment.
    Satisfaction of a good meal and a safe place to sleep often seems their highest internal achievement. Yet I see and hear them being thankful for what they have.

    As one man put it “I’m still alive. Sometimes that’s enough.”

    Public radio recently talked about one in four Americans say that they have stress. I bet they didn’t take the survey on the street. Stress is a popular way now to say that something bothers me.

    I want to spend some time on thinking just how I just cope with things and how I am sustained in wholeness. I am hoping that just coping with things is not my major concern.

Masks

Masks by Kaze Gadway
A man walks by me, looks at the water bottles I am giving out, turns back and asks: “Can I get one of those?”
I say, “Sure, take two. It’s hot.”
He says, “I used to have a job. I could afford these.”
“You don’t look bitter,” I say. “What’s up about getting a job?”
He smiles at my slang and says “I have to find the right mask to put on as well as clean clothes. My theory is that we all wear masks so people don’t take advantage of us. You tell me I don’t look bitter but I’m hiding. I’m very angry. But I’m going to get a job, you’ll see.”
He walks away.
Here speaks a man, living on the street who reflects on his internal feelings. He has a plan somewhat. He is intelligent. There is something wrong with this picture. He is a part of a diverse community with many levels of determination and intelligence.
There is no simple solution to homelessness or to our economy.
I will continue walking the streets with those who want to know that someone cares regardless of masks.