“Everything hurts.” Michelangelo Antonioni
I know I’ve been goin’ on and on about how crummy I feel since the election, and how unsettled I’ve become–man, I just wish we could do a do-over and get somebody else in the WH–and I’m not advocating for Hillary–I would take Rubio, Cruz, even that thick-as-a-brick Rick Perry– frankly anyone…
But politics is only something that you have time to stew over AFTER you stew over your own situation. The other night I met some friends at a bar and all we did was bitch and moan about our lives–bad credit, bad relationships, bad jobs, worn-out cars, funky health shit, Kevin Love needs surgery, tax time–in short, everyone of us was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I left the bar that night, got in my piece of crap Toyota, and thought: life can really blow. It can just suck the joy out of living. But then I see this old guy, homeless I guess, pushin’ a WalMart shopping cart, stop next to a dumpster, drop his trousers and take a dump.
Guess what?, I said to myself. As bad as my life sucks is–and believe me: sometimes it really sucks–I have it better that at least one other son of a bitch. I have a place to sleep and it has a toilet and a fridge and basic cable.
The next morning, a Saturday, I rolled out of bed, lit a cigarette and drove downtown to a homeless shelter. I stood on the fringes for a long time, not quite sure why I was there. It was a stinky, unholy place, but after a while I began to see that amidst all of the lethargy and suffering there were volunteers–selfless, soulful, strong people who didn’t stand on the sidelines like me–they got in there and helped.
So I volunteered. Now, once a month I head downtown and spend a day at the homeless center. I found my niche–I work with the men who are ready to re-join the work force. I help them work on a resume, find decent clothes for an interview, and practice how to talk to an employer.
It’s not much, but it’s something.
And now you’re going to try it.
This week you are going to look in on some men who have it worse than you. You HAVE to volunteer, or at least visit, one of the following locations:
1) The waiting area of the emergency room. Go to the nearest big city. Find the emergency room waiting area. Sit down for four hours. You’ll see the flotsam and jetsam of humanity roll in and out like the tide.
2) Homeless shelter. Shelter is a basic human need. Many men don’t have it, so they go to homeless shelters. Go to one and sign up to help out.
3) County home. Fun places where aging men without means, or family, or both, are institutionalized.
4) School for the mentally challenged.
5) Orphanage or foster home.
6) Or drunk tank, or skid row, or mental health institute. You make the call.
Then come home and write about it.
Photo by Ryan Castillo