- 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.