I’ve been sitting on this sketch for a few weeks now, waiting for the right time to share it with you. Paul, one of the two authors at Two Voices One Transmission asked me to create a sketch based on descriptions of several characters in this blog post. His interactions with his “favorite neighbors,” who were either homeless, or on the discarded fringes of society, resonated with me. I don’t know how well I responded to the challenge, but I certainly enjoyed creating these sketches. This also provided an opportunity to reflect on my evolving perspective towards homeless friends.
Last week I wrote about life lessons I learned while hiking the Appalachian Trail. (If you’d like to read it, you can visit here.) I spoke at length about the hardships (and perks) of living as a homeless hiker. But the thing is, I wasn’t really “homeless.” If things became too difficult, I knew my patient wife would be waiting with open arms. There were only a handful of nights (out of 166) that I struggled to find a place to sleep at night. I lost an unhealthy amount of weight, but access to food was rarely the issue. And while the typical long-distance hiker looks (and smells) like a feral creature, there was no shortage of “hiker-friendly” towns and homes that welcomed us, some even celebrated the fact that we were walking the woods for a really long time.
My homeless friends don’t have the luxury of a support system. No friends and family back home to send encouragement or care packages. They don’t have credit cards in their pack that they can pull out when the urge to dip into town for a hot meal and a shower becomes overwhelming. Rather than being celebrated for enduring a challenging existence, the homeless often face ostracism and attacks. A life like this doesn’t strike me as fun, or inspirational. And it certainly isn’t glorious.
But this isn’t always a recipe for despair.