Sometimes I say to my wife, “I’m starting to feel human. I’m starting to feel like myself.” What does that exactly mean? And how does not relate to the homeless experience? When I say that, I am sur4e I mean what they refer to as “feeling comfortable in your own skin,” as well as feeling comfortable in your surroundings. The fact is that IS hard to feel comfortable in your own skin when you are wandering in what seems to be alien territory, like the inner city or, for that matter, the middle of nowhere. Maybe I’m more of a ‘burb person at heart, though I like the feel of being nestled in the mountains, as we are here in Asheville. Anyway, in order to feel “human” and connected to the human race, I think that we must also feel that inner connection with ourselves; the two go hand in hand. What this means is that one is experiencing a kind of flow, a life force that emanates from within and from beyond at the same time. Weighed down by alienation, it is hard to feel that life force.
It also means I have a sense of direction in my life, and hope for positive change. When a homeless person loses hope, that’s when he or she is in real trouble and needs professional help. Suicide can actually result, as I saw once in a rehab shelter in Massachusetts. At least, I regard it as suicide, though you never know for sure with a drug overdose.
As long as you retain that sense of hope for positive change, you’re still okay, though you may be sleeping in an army cot in a run down shelter. And by the way, it’s good to make a to-do list at the start of each day, as well as to have a little prayer or meditation time for oneself. This could be at a soup kitchen or a coffee shop or even on the porch of the shelter or in a park somewhere. It does not matter, wherever you feel comfortable enough to pull out a pad of paper and write.
So when I say to my wife, “I feel human and like myself,” I am saying much more than meets the eye. I am saying that I am in touch with the nexus of growth that lies within and also like coming forth with some constructive energy–engaged with the project of living in the world, a world also populated by others.