Monday, March 5, 2012

Apprenticeship on the Streets - Invisible People

Being an apprentice is an excellent way for me to learn.  It gives me time to repeat experiences and absorb them.  I'm fortunate in that one of the non-profit foundations I believe in and support heavily is now facilitating what I call an "Apprenticeship Program."  I'm taking advantage of that, and have enrolled as an apprentice.

::preens:: You could call me an "early adopter" in the program.  ::chortle::

Had the opportunity to share stories on the street yesterday.  Not something that happens for me often, since my health imposes a few more limits on me than I like at the moment.

I want to share a bit of those stories with you.

Of the 14 or so people I met yesterday, 3 of them chose to share their stories on video.  3 didn't want to accept any socks, nor talk. And the rest enthusiastically shared their words and expressed their feelings with us off-camera.

I met four-legged friends as well.  In each case, the refrain was the same -- "No, we can't go to shelter, they won't accept our dogs, and we're not giving them up."

This I understand well, coming from the many dysfunctional-isms I was inculcated with when I grew up -- animals were my only source of non-abusive love and attention.

One of the heartbreaks I've not yet recovered from about 12-13 years ago, was when I lost a home, wound up on the streets and before I was on the streets, I spent a month finding homes for the cats that had given me love and companionship.  More importantly the cats had accepted love and companionship from me.  2 of the animals had been with me over 12 years.

But enough about me.  The true story is on the streets.

Each of the people I spoke with (and I had to be pulled away from a few of them by the reminder that we were short on time) had compelling stories, a sparkle in their eyes, and insight into human behavior.

Just like you and me.

When you go to the office, or deal with your neighbors, and sometimes even family -- not everything is hunky-dory.  People have idiosyncrasies.  We often label someone else's idiosyncrasy as "crazy".

One of the observations that knocked my socks off yesterday was, "The only difference between being crazy with money is you can hide it, here on the streets it's not easily hidden."

My observation?

There are many things a living being needs:  air, water, food, companionship (whether it's people or nature) and shelter -- no, not just shelter -- home ... because shelter is what we seek in emergency and living life for more than a short time as an emergency is death-dealing emotionally, mentally and physically.

These are intrinsic needs.  I'm a survivor.  Of many things.  I'm willing to bet you are as well--we could trade horror stories.

One of the benefits of a horror story is not that you can say, "There but for the grace of _________ [insert the name of your chosen deity, avatar or hero] am I; but that you can be aware of the yin/yang and see the seed of the opposite within.

The seed of the opposite leads you to what is nourishing and encouraging.

No, I cannot give air, water, food, nor homes to my peers on the streets.  Not yet.

But I can give my awareness, and I can tell my stories.  

Since everyone I meet works their way into my stories, I'm telling their stories too.

An apprenticeship is based on awareness.  And just like medieval apprentices whose lives depended on the trades they learned; lives depend on what I learn in this one.

My life, your life, and the lives of those we connect with.

My apprenticeship is with Invisible People -- you could call me part of a "local chapter".

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