Yup. I was homeless for a little while. It was back when I was in my early 20’s and I worked and moved seasonally between Maine and Florida. I had the same employer and place to live each summer when I worked in Maine. But each winter that I went to Florida, I had to find a job and a place to live.
One of the things about being in my early 20’s was the thought of having to find both a job and a place to live didn’t dissuade me from doing it. I did have solid leads on the job front, so the biggest thing I had to figure out was the living situation.
The second time I wintered in Florida, I ended up working as a deckhand on a party fishing boat. The pay sucked, but the work was fun, and I loved working on the ocean. Who wouldn’t love an opportunity to go to the Bahamas once in a while and get paid to do it?
When you work for crappy pay, you need to get creative when it comes to a place to live. Luckily I went from a small flea infested (literally) apartment during off-season, to renting a room in a house during high season. Rent prices on or near the coast of Florida change drastically with the tourist season.
One of the things about being young is you don’t really care where you live, as long as it’s fairly safe, has running water and electricity, and it’s affordable. But, because you haven’t had a lot of life experience, you might not recognize a woof in sheep’s clothing.
Soon after I moved into the rental house, it went up for sale. The landlord assured me and the other renters that there were no offers on the house yet. Even when there was a pest inspection and very interested buyers, the
snake landlord kept assuring us that they wouldn’t be able to get financing.
Knowing that there was the possibility I’d need to find another place to live before I went north for the summer, I put out a few feelers.
A few months later I got to work one of the Bahamas trips, and I was gone for 10 days. Upon my return, I pulled up to the house, and recognized much of the living room furniture out on the front lawn. WTF? I went into the house and there were strangers inside. The new owners were moving into the house. Fortunately, they had left my room alone; although the landlord lied to them, telling them I’d be home several days before I actually arrived. He also neglected to let me know that the house had sold and new owners would be moving in.
Exhausted and in need of a shower, I asked the new owners if I could take a shower before I packed and moved out. The shower is a great place to have a good cry. Then I called a woman who, weeks earlier, said I could bunk in with her and her young son, once she was back in her condo. But her condo (owned by her parents) was still being rented for yet another week. So I was out on the street for a week.
Knowing that the company’s Bahamas boat would be sitting dockside for the week, I called my boss and explained my living situation to him. He was wonderful and offered me the bunk I had just spent the previous 10 days using, for the week. And he took me on the next Bahamas trip over the next weekend (usually he’d rotate crew to give everyone an equal shot at these trips).
I packed up all my belongings and put them in my car, and lived on the boat for the next week, until I could move in with a friend. So why am I telling you about a mere week that I was homeless? I didn’t have to live in my car. And I didn’t have to stay in a shelter.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about a man I know. He is my same age, and had some similar childhood trauma (but not specifically the same), but our abilities to cope with life’s difficulties is markedly different.
I’ve always been the type of person to strive for more, for better, to not let life run me over or drive me too deep into the ground. I’ve got a bit of resilience that a lot of people have, but not everyone.
This man has let life run him over and has done little to nothing to help himself. He copes with life by not coping. He’s turned to alcohol (years ago) and has no desire to stop drinking. He lost his job probably a few years ago now and will not consider doing any other sort of work. And with his body literally falling apart (bad back, knees, etc.), even if he were offered a job within his skill set, he wouldn’t physically be able to do it. He won’t do any physical therapy or job retraining. Within the last year he sold all his tools, so he can’t take on woodworking jobs on his own. His wife finally kicked him out, after wanting him out for a long time. And the last I heard from him, he lost his free cell phone (that they give out to low-income people), and wrecked his car that he was living in.
Both my husband and I have tried to help him; first by hiring him to do work. But with his poor physical condition, he can’t do the simple yard work we need done. My husband has given him money, and most recently offered to take him to a shelter that offers counseling and other support to help people get back on their feet. He wouldn’t take advantage.
I began to wonder what is it that is in one person to keep climbing, keep striving, keep looking, when another just won’t take the hand up, even when they’ve had several opportunities. I posed this question to a blog of a couple comprised of a woman who channels spiritual wisdom from a group called The Council, and her husband who presents people’s questions to her when she channels. My question and The Council’s answer are actually the first comment of this blog post.
The long and short of it has to do with our soul’s desire for what we want to experience during this lifetime. I was told that this man I know, chose, at a soul level, to experience what he is living. And in answer to why I didn’t end up as an alcoholic or drug addict (when it could have been so easy to do): it wasn’t in my soul’s life plan.
While still in spirit, we each choose to experience certain things during our lifetimes, and when we are in the physical body, we are not privy to these desires for ourselves or others. The big message The Council brought forth as to why we are here, is to bring love into our lives and others. To bring love into situations.
So, specifically in the case of the guy I know who seems, in my judgment, to refuse to better himself, I now know that it is his desire at the soul level to give himself these experiences, and it also gives opportunities to allow others to bring in love. And perhaps, one day, he’ll learn to bring love to himself and make changes. But at this point, The Council says the best way to bring love to a situation such as this is by praying for him and sending him positive thoughts and energy. Praying not to change him or his situation, but rather that he is able to go through it with as much grace and ease as possible. This will actually help him.
So, when you feel helpless to change or fix a situation that you deem bad or sad, know that the person or people in the situation might have chosen to go through that experience (even if they don’t see it). Do not judge their experience based on your values. And that praying for them, accepting just where they are, is very valid and brings in love.
What did I learn from losing my lodgings and working for crap pay? That I didn’t want to have such an unstable life with little to no security. The next winter, I didn’t go back to Florida, but decided to change the trajectory of my life by going back to school so I could become a licensed ship’s officer and get a “real” job. Which is exactly what I did.