Where there’s art, there’s just a bit more possibility…

Originally posted on Anthony Turi:

From the Archives… This article, the first of my ‘archived’ pieces on this site, was written in January 2007. It was inspired by a visit to the Tate Modern with my niece, nephew and my oldest friend, and my encounter at the Tate with Carsten Holler’s ‘Slides’ installation…

So my niece asked me to take her to the Tate Modern, because she’s working towards her Art G.C.S.E., and she wanted to see some of the paintings that she’s been studying. Her younger brother, naturally, also wanted to come, and I invited Cronain along too, to help out with the historical details and context.

Times have changed. I can remember my niece being a little girl, and taking her to the playground at the local park. The usual images from such a montage are all present: helping her on to climbing frames, pushing her on the swings, watching her – and her brother…

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Spring is here – kind of

The path leads to spring… hopefully

Although today at 34 degrees F — roughly 1 degree Celsius — my walk to the woods didn’t feel like it. I had even considered not going for that walk, after looking at the temperature and seeing it was nowhere near yesterday’s. Saturday was fairly warm, and the continuous see-sawing of temps back and forth — between warm and not-warm — gets to be a little demoralizing. The last thing I needed was to walk out today and have my flagging spirits trampled yet again. It’s Sunday, after all, which means that another full week is ahead of me… and the idea of not having the free space to just BE and do things at my own pace, in just a matter of hours… well, that on top of cold weather felt like a little much.

But I went out anyway. Bit the bullet, pulled on the gloves, and walked out the road to the trail head. I wasn’t sure I was going to hike back into the forest, then decided on a whim to walk in to the beaver pond, make the circuit around it, and come back out — all in time to get home to mix up a Sunday brunch of chicken-apple sausages and scrambled eggs for our house guests.

March in New England is an interesting thing this year. It can’t seem to make up its mind, and it showed on the trail. The path was either a frozen solid sheet of ice, or it was a lacey mix of half-melted ice and snow, or it was clear of all cover except for last year’s leaves. I hip-hopped from one patch of leaves to the next, gingerly skirting the icy spots, and crunching through melting snow that sometimes spilled in over the tops of my hiking shoes and melted in little pockets of cold dampness around my ankles.

I hate those little pockets of cold dampness around my ankles.

So, I tried my best to keep to the leafier parts of the trail… and watch my step, because the going was treacherously slippery in places, and even though I do have ICE contact information on my cell phone (which was with me), I’d just as soon not test out that capability with the Bolton EMTs.

Signs of spring were indefinite, I have to say. The teaberry plants are always green, so seeing them sticking up through the snow seemed like a hollow announcement of nothing much. The ground was soft and spongy in places, as the earth readies for mud season, but there was still plenty of ice and snow; for all anyone could tell, it might just as well have been a warm spell in February. I did see a congress of about 10 robins in someone’s yard, but as soon as they all flew away, everything looked the same as it had two months ago. There is definitely less snow on the ground, these days. But they’re calling for more on Tuesday/Wednesday, so it’s cold comfort to gaze longingly at the glistening muck under that noncommittal gray sky.

Spring will get here when it gets here. But the thought occurred to me that I may in fact never be warm again. In my entire life.

My early spring bleakness notwithstanding, it was a good walk. I ate my daily apple while I ambled, and I pitched the core into the woods where some lucky squirrel or deer would find it. All the concentrated focus on the trickier parts of the trail warmed me up, and I emerged from the tree cover reminded — yet again — how much can change about your attitude, if you just make a start at things.

Before I’d left the house, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go out.

As I emerged from the woods, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back.

But our house guests were waiting, and I was getting hungry. There was sausage to cook, mushrooms and onions to sautee… and a mess o’ eggs with another cup of coffee would really hit the spot. And it did.

Spring will get here when it gets here. In the meantime, I’ve got more than enough to keep me busy.

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Back from France, and working through my jet lag

Oh, the places we go...

Oh, the places we go…

I just got back from another week-long trip to the Paris area. This was for work — as it always is. I’ve been to France twice in the space of a month — I was there the second week in February and the first week in March. I think I’m pretty much done with transatlantic travel for at least a few months.

Of course, my new boss returns from maternity leave in mid-May, so I may need to make another trip then, but it will be good to have more than two weeks between trips. And the weather will be nicer — spring. Already, the trees were starting to blossom in Velizy-Villacoublay, and the temps were in the 60′s (F). Amazing. After the winter we’ve had in the U.S. — amazing.

Now I’m back and recovering. One of the toughest parts of travel for me is jet lag. I’m pretty keen on functioning at 100% in my everyday life, and nothing kills that more than being jet-lagged. The brain fog and fatigue are serious downers. So, I’m putting my cumulative experience to good work, and I’m dealing with it. And it appears to be working pretty well, at least so far. I’m feeling a whole lot better today, than I did the last time I was recovering. Maybe traveling more often is acclimating my system. But I think fine-tuning my recovery is paying off, as well.

I’m being a lot more deliberate in my recovery this time, than before. I’m getting extra sleep, eating plenty of protein, drinking plenty of water, getting some exercise, and adjusting my daily schedule to allow for more rest and fewer distractions. And it seems to be doing the trick.

It’s all a process, of course, and every time I learn something more. The key seems to be keeping to a set schedule, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the time. It’s painful and awkward, but it passes. And it’s for a good reason — to help me normalize. At the very least, it gets me functioning like a regular human being again, instead of a veritable piece of luggage that’s tossed from one location to another in the name of global commerce.

After all, it is nice to be a human being — and feel like it.

It’s probably going to be a few days before I start to feel wholly human again, but this time, I seem to be getting there much faster than before. And that’s always nice.

The nicest thing of all is being home again. Yes, there’s snow on the ground. But it was 52 degrees yesterday, and it was fantastic to be walking around without a coat on. The spring melt is underway, and we’re resetting our clocks. Spring is just around the corner, and that makes recovering — if not easier — that much more enjoyable.

It is good to be home.

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Boulogne-Bound – Getting ready to go

My next home away from home – sort of

It’s back to France for me, this coming week. I’ll be staying and working just outside of Paris, meeting with team members who are based in the home office, thousands of miles from my Massachusetts home base. I leave tomorrow night, and I’ll be back on Thursday the 13th… in time for Valentine’s Day, and preparation for some weekend events.

It’s rare that we all get together as a one trans-Atlantic team. We’re usually so busy with our own activities, our physical paths don’t cross that often. That will be changing this year, as I’m making a couple of trips over in the next month.

Who knows if they will do the same? You never can tell. Company policy around travel tends to change, with access being open for a few months, then closed later on.

That includes hotel accommodations. Usually we’re consigned to the Novotel or Mercure or Ibis in Vélizy-Villacoublay. They’re not awful. But they’re also not great. And unless you have a thriving yoga or za-zen practice that gives you something to do in your room after hours, hanging out there after a long day of work can get a little grim. Some of the rooms are nicer than others. Some of them are akin to staying in a college dorm room, complete with funky carpets and carved-up furniture and blinds that don’t hang exactly right on the windows — if you are fortunate enough to have blinds.

I got lucky this time and will be staying in Boulogne-Billancourt, which is about 15 minutes outside of Paris, and another 15 minutes from the office. It’s going to be super-easy to get to the hotel by train and Metro, as it’s only a few blocks from the Metro stop. It’s also in the middle of a bustling town, near restaurants and shops, so I can actually live my life as a normal person — a real human being — when I’m there, instead of some cog-in-the-corporate-wheel grunt dumped at a hotel that’s sandwiched between the road to the local Ikea warehouse and the highway…. with a stunning view of the loading docks of the local mega-shopping center… with no decent restaurants or other signs of regular life in sight, only vending machine odds and ends to stave off hunger, and cable television and wifi to connect me to the outside world.

The one saving grace to the Novotel is that they offer cable t.v. with German shows, as well as French, so I get to catch up on other European events — and brush up on my German.

I’m really looking forward to staying in Boulogne this time. It’s a whole lot simpler to get to than the other hotels in Vélizy-Villacoublay, where the home office is located. And I expect it to be much more pleasant. The cab ride from the airport to Vélizy will cost you dearly, and taxi drivers don’t always take credit cards.  Plus, they sometimes like to jack up the meter right out of the gate, so your bill is sky-high by the time they find their way to Vélizy. Sometimes they circle the town for an additional half hour, because of construction routes blocking direct access.

If you just sit back and let them charge whatever, you can burn through your “emergency” stash of Euros in short order… And end up at a hotel that doesn’t have quick access to an ATM, unless you’re willing to walk 10 minutes to the nearest shopping center. It’s not terribly far, but it is a hike. And if it’s raining… well, you get the picture.

To avoid this, I’ve been practicing protesting vehemently in French — Monsieur — Arretez vous ! C’est tres tres chere ! Basically protesting that they’re charging me too much, and they need to stop the cab immediately, so I can get out and find another. I’d probably be in for a fight, though, because I’ve seldom crossed paths with a Paris taxi driver who wasn’t at least a little bit cranky. The pleasant ones I don’t quite trust, because it seems like they always turn. It doesn’t take much, apparently. But with access to the train/metro and bus, I get to bypass the unique joy of cabbing it in the Paris area.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to taking a cab to Vélizy, if you’re willing to take the time and you’re not in a huge rush. You can take the train and the bus, like I did the first time I was there, three years ago. True, it took me quite a while to figure it out, and I was completely turned around, and the person I was traveling with was not at all comfortable outside the USA (making things a little strained for everyone involved), but now I know how it’s done.

I’m certainly hoping my stay in Boulogne-Billancourt will turn out well. Here’s hoping. No, there’s not as much hoping as there is planning.

Preparation is everything.

I’ve got my list of What Needs To Get Done today, including returning library books that are due, confirming flight and international phone plan details, making sure the bank knows I’ll be in Europe for the next days (so they don’t cut me off if I try to use my debit card to pay for food and lodging), and moving files around from my various devices to make room for more photos and files I’ll pick up on my trip.

Oh, and there’s also the ever-popular dump run. The trash in the bins in the garage needs to get gone, before I am.

So far, I’m on schedule. I’ve got several items crossed off, already, and it looks like I’m going to have time to take care of other items in a systematic and logical manner. The worst thing, when getting ready for a trip — especially one that takes you into a different time zone where people speak a language you don’t know very well — is being rushed and frazzled and hassled.

Once upon a time, I found it invigorating to live on the edge. After having walked that fine line for many a year, now I really appreciate the utter luxury of a well-prepared trip.

And that’s what I’m focusing on now. I don’t have a lot of time in France. I’ll be landing on Monday morning, taking the train/metro to the hotel, checking in and putting everything in order at my room, then cabbing it to the office where I have meetings on Monday afternoon. I had considered flying out Saturday night and having Sunday to rest, because I absolutely detest (je deteste !) being jet-lagged and operating at anything less than 100%.

But this is going to be a short trip, and it may be generally unpleasant, since the weather isn’t looking promising (40′s and rainy), so I’m going to suck it up and do my best under less-than-ideal circumstances and keep focused on what really matters.

Anyway, I’ll be home on Thursday evening, and then I’ll have four days to rest and recoup. I’m taking the day off on Friday, and I have Monday off as well. So it should work out okay, I reckon.

For today, though, it’s all preparation and taking care of business, while banks and libraries are open, and the weather is clear. They’re calling for snow tomorrow (of course), which will delay things a bit if I’m out and about, so today I’ll do all my running-around, while tomorrow will be an “in” day.

If all goes according to plan — and I don’t decide to improvise out of boredom or some strange idea that it would be more fun if I veered off-course — I should have a reasonably luxurious start to my trip tomorrow, with all of my own ducks in a row… leaving me some space to let others around me do their thing.

If I have my bags packed properly with the right supplies, and I have all my own various and sundry pieces in place, everyone else can do as they please, and I’ll be able to adjust.

Because you never do know what will happen, when others start to riff on their own theme.

Oh, look at the time – time to fly.

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The Walking Live

Krampus karma

Krampus karma

The irony of this post is not lost on me – I’m about to comment about the lack of genuine experience in the real world, whilst sitting in front of a computer screen in a warm house during the winter, scouring YouTube for signs of Krampus events.

For those who are unaware, Krampus is St. Nicholas’ darker aspect (read more about him here), and he walks the streets in pursuit of little brats, to put the fear of the Almighty in them on or around the night of November 30. In central European regions (especially in the mountains), he’s a regular part of this time of year, and he later joins St. Nicholas on December 5th when he makes his rounds to reward (or reprimand) children for their past year’s behavior.

Some areas have a separate ritual Krampuslauf where a group of folks in fearsome costumes roam the streets with switches, punishing those who have been naughty.  It’s a slightly different experience than sitting in your living room safe and sound, watching The Walking Dead, clicker in hand. Getting out to encounter a Krampus in real life is likely going to be cold, the weather might be bad, and you could actually be injured in the process.

Krampus puts his money where his mouth is, and he gives that old “naughty or nice” promise some teeth. It’s a far cry from a passive-aggressive bit of coal in your stocking.

And in some parts of the world, he’s real — at least, the imagery is, the tradition is, and the experience of having Krampus walk up to you and give you a swat, is just how things are.

Now granted, people do know there’s a real human being underneath the outfit. And they know that the ritual is an annual thing that doesn’t happen everyday. So, there’s a certain pageantry to it that, which makes it safe to experience pangs of fear within those ritual guidelines.

The thing I like about the running of the Krampus, is that it happens outside a room with a television in it. There are real people in the costumes, walking around outside in the real world. There’s even a bit of danger involved, and you can actually get injured, should you be caught the wrong way by a switch or a tree branch. Once upon a time, it was a given that life was dangerous, that people got hurt, and that lawyers didn’t have to get involved to mediate what life just dished out. I’m not sure what the folks in South Tirol who got smacked in the face did in modern times, but one likes to think no lawyers were brought in.  Maybe a doctor…

Watching the videos of Krampus, which I have been doing on and off for the past 24 hours, I am really enjoying the idea of this winter ritual you experience in person, out in the world where you live, and which could actually instill a bit of fear in you. It’s like the American Halloween experience, I suppose, only with a narrower range of costumes. And the point is not only entertainment. It’s cautionary as well.

I think of it as “The Walking Live” — it can give you an experience of fear and intense need to flee, based not on some deep-seated communal anxiety about zombified life and the insatiable drive to consume. Rather it’s all about the very real possibility that in the past year you’ve been a bit of a sh*t — and there are consequences for that. Imagine retribution being meted out for an actual reason… because you’ve earned it. And just think what it would be like for a community to see some bratty little kid (or your pain-in-the-ass neighbors who let their dogs out to bark like maniacs for 20 minutes at 11:30 p.m. and again at 5:30 a.m.) to be physically threatened by a horned and hideous beast in a goat skin…

Now that would be fun!

In any case, Happy St. Nicholas Day. In some parts of the world, actual physical Krampuses will be turning out with St. Nick, just to keep folks honest… to keep it real.

Happy Holidays!

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Coming out about charity

I had an interesting conversation with a friend, a few months ago. We were talking about charitable giving, and she shared with me that in her faith, you just don’t talk about what you do for charity. You give, without asking for attention. You just give. Generously.

I agree. I feel more comfortable giving anonymously. I frankly don’t want anyone to pay any attention to me, when I contribute something. It feels like it cheapens it, and it ends up being for the wrong reason.

Here’s the thing, though. We are living in a world filled with individuals who make no secret about the harm they do to others. They are constantly modeling greedy, self-serving behavior that hurts everyone around them, and they don’t have a problem telling everyone they have every right to do so.

On the other hand, there are many, many people — rich and poor — who are doing significant good in the world, but they don’t make a show of it.

So, the models we see of ostentatious behavior that’s rewarded and recognized in society at large, can end up negative and destructive.

Because we don’t see anything else.

I’d like to propose that people speak up more, when they do some good in the world. Not because they want attention for it, not because they want recognition, and not because they were thinking about what was in it for them… but for the sake of the rest of us, who are subjected to story after story about people doing awful things, but we all too rarely hear about people doing excellent things.

Now, one could argue that we can see good deeds modeled in the lives of people we know, or through the sharing of stories by others. But this seems too haphazard and too intermittent to me. Plus, if we rely only on our intimate networks to learn about what good is being done, then we miss out on the larger picture and don’t get a worldwide view.

One last argument for going public (coming out) with our charitable acts, is that people can share how genuinely good it feels to do these things. It might make the difference between someone choosing for or against doing something beneficial for another person. You never know.

But if we never talk about these things out loud, then for sure, we will probably Never Know.

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The worst sort of poverty of all

Never enough...

Never enough…

At the risk of sounding like I’m comparing “grades of poor” and not fairly assessing the trauma and desperation of the deeply impoverished, I’m going to talk “big picture” for a few moments. This comes after a Black Friday of death and destruction at various Wal-Marts, as well as my discovery of one woman’s writing on how poverty drives her decision-making – it’s well worth the read – check it out!.

Poverty comes in all shapes and sizes, from the generations-long persistence of just being poor and having no apparent options, to the freshly minted sort that comes after economic meltdowns and shifts in the employment landscapes. A perfectly-timed combination of medical emergency, insurance limitations and job change, can put the most solvent of us under water, and more people than we know are struggling daily… even while seeming to be living the dream.

That’s one sort of poverty — the day-to-day struggle, the lack of any clear options, the simple moment-by-moment life when you’re so very close to the edge… or not… depending on how well the car holds up or whether or not your kids or pets are sick. It’s deadly, it’s wearing, it’s persistent, and it strips the last shreds of dignity from you, even as it dissolves any hope for your future.

It’s a daily barrage of logistical issues, one problem after another, one trashed plan after another, that drains your energy and sucks the life out of you. And all you can think of is how to get through the day. That kind of logistical poverty, which keeps you forever on edge, forever stressed, makes it literally impossible to think or dream about anything else in your life, aside from survival.

And it’s the sort of existence that I doubt many financial planners can envision, when they exhort people to save the first 10% of their earnings in an interest-bearing account. For a lot of folks, that first 10% is already spent before it arrives. And any interest-bearing account they might have access to, is actually a negative-sum game, returning less interest than the rising cost of living sucks away.

And then there’s another sort of poverty — a poverty of the spirit, which permeates the soul with thoughts of not-enough, of self-absorbed pain, of thinking that you have it much worse than anyone else, and you cannot possibly have enough to share with others, because you do not have enough, yourself.

This sort of poverty, I believe, makes all the other sorts possible. It makes it possible for greed to run rampant, for stratifications of wealth to ossify and become “just how things are”. It makes it possible for the Very, Very Wealthy to look out at the rest of the world and turn a blind eye to the suffering that is everywhere, because they feel so much suffering themselves and feel only revulsion at the idea of reaching out to others. And it cuts off our ability to do the basic pragmatic things which will alleviate the stresses of logistical poverty, so that the poor can think bigger than their next meal, or whether or not the electricity will still be turned on when they get home from their 3rd job.

Poverty of spirit allows us as a whole society to dismiss day-to-day struggles of people with no hope of hope, and refuse to even admit to issues which could be addressed at a very fundamental, basic level, if only for one day. Sometimes, one day can make all the difference. Sometimes, one meal can mean the difference between an old and new life. Sometimes handing $20 instead of $10 to a homeless person, can mean the difference between being them stuck under a bridge and being able to afford a room at a cheap hotel where they can get a shower and a safe, good night’s rest.

And yet, we who can help cannot seem to find it in us to extend ourselves just that one simple bit, to offer the most basic, logistical help to others.

Because — we think — if they’re in that situation, they must have a “poverty mentality” which will keep them there, no matter how much we help them. If nothing else, they’ll just drink our help away or shoot it or snort it up their nose. We don’t want to perpetuate their dysfunction, so it’s better if we look away.

After all, if they’ve sunk so far, then there must be some systemic issue with them, some flaw, some degenerate trait that got them there. And that issue, that flaw, that trait, will put them right back where they started.  We’ll just be reinforcing their bad choices and self-destructive actions.

And we’ll still be out that $20. We need that $20. For this week’s coffee. For movie tickets. For lunch. For that app or that game or that item we’ve seen others walking around and enjoying. To put gas in our cars, so we can drive 80 mph instead of 65.

We need that. Because we deserve it. Because we have it hard. Because we are suffering. So many of our inner hurts and aches are self-imposed, with our interpretations of what’s happening (often apparently bad) escalating into a perception of full-on assault from an unfriendly world. The more we dwell on the way we feel we’re being attacked, the more vulnerable we feel. And we need to shield ourselves… From what seems to be coming from outside — but is actually inside our own heads.

We need to protect ourselves. We need to ease our pain. We need to nurse the wounds and shore up our confidence. We need. And we take. And we refuse to give.

Because if we give to others, we might deprive ourselves. And considering how embattled we already feel, why would we want to do that?

Shouldn’t we be our own best friends?

Everyone has their own pain. Everyone has their own struggles. I’m not disputing that. The one thing I will say, is that in tightening up and refusing to give, in refusing to step outside our own pain, in staying frozen in our own agonies, we actually miss a valuable opportunity to reduce that inner pain and cut down on the agonies.

That opportunity lies in reaching out. In offering to others. In giving with an open heart, regardless of the “return on investment”. The act of giving, while beneficial to others (or sometimes not), is far more beneficial to us. To our souls. To our struggling spirits.

More times than I can count, I’ve handed money to beggars. I’ve slowed down the car and passed dollars through a car window to guys with signs at the Alewife interchange and down where the Mass Pike feeds out to Storrow Drive. I’ve heard the stories about how the bums at Alewife have their own little village, and for them begging is a career and they make hundreds of dollars a day, supposedly. And I’ve heard how the drug addicts living under the bridge at South Station send their women out to collect money because they get more sympathy.

And to be perfectly honest, more times than I have given, I have refused to give. I’ve heard those  stories in the back of my head, exhorting me to not support those self-destructive lifestyle choices that keep people locked in prisons of their own making. More times than I have given, I have rolled up the window, or turned a blind eye, or crossed the street to avoid telling someone “No” when a better part of me asked, “Why not? Honestly, what would it hurt to part with a dollar right now?” I’ve justified passing by the poor and disenfranchised — as though they didn’t exist — with a million different reasons that have been freely supplied by a commercial culture that feeds on the need of its members to assuage their pain and prove that they “deserve a break”, considering how hard they/we have it.

And frankly, that feels like sh*t. Because I know what it feels like to be in desperate need. I know what it’s like to depend on the kindness of strangers and friends alike, and have my existence hinge on whether or not someone says, “Oh, okay… I guess I can help.” Almost 24 years ago, I was in pretty tough straits. And though I didn’t realize it at the time, if things had not worked out just right… if I hadn’t gotten help from random folks who were willing to reach out… if things hadn’t lined up just as they had… well, I could have ended up in the shoes of some of the people who now ask me for help.

More than two decades ago, ripping out the deeply flawed and poorly constructed infrastructure of my life and starting from scratch, was the only real option I had. It was that, or sink like a stone in the chaotic soup of everyone else’s idea of how I should be, and what sort of life I should life. And that choice put me closer to the margins of society than I actually realized at the time. I was so focused on where I was going, what changes I wanted to make, what my actual wishes and dreams were, I didn’t pay much attention to the fact that I could not afford the kinds of food and material things that people just take for granted. I got lucky a thousand times over, just following up on hunches, and the greatest luck I had was in the people I met who were willing to lend a hand to help me get back on my feet.

Every little bit helped. Even the kind words. A look from someone that told me I was a real person who really mattered. A few words of wisdom about how to make your heat stretch through the winter or how to prepare meals that would provide nearly a week of leftovers.

It’s been a while since I was that much in need. And I’m aware of that, every single day. It makes getting up and going to work feel like an honor. It turns doing yardwork into a celebration. It makes even the most mundane activities into something special. Simply because they truly are mundane.

Things aren’t easy right now, by any stretch, but I still feel a pressing obligation to give to others — especially the ones who ask. Maybe I can’t help in big ways — it’s been a number of years since I could do any charitable giving — but I can help in little ways. Even if I have to figure out a way to help that’s different from what was requested, I do feel a duty to at least make the effort. And those opportunities to do something, even if they never “matter”, are a very small version of what I wish I could do. Eventually I hope to do more. That, more than any accumulation of wealth, is my greatest ambition.

In the end, though, the real payoff for helping is to meet and encounter another human being who is, in fact, human. Maybe they are in tough straits. Maybe they stink. Maybe they are so filthy there is no way I will get within arm’s reach of them — I’m no saint, after all, and I have my limits to what I can take. Maybe they reek of cheap booze and cigarettes and God-knows-what-else. Maybe they won’t even look me in the eye. Maybe they can’t. But they are human. They remind me of the parts of life that test us all. And but for the grace of God, 24 years ago, I could have ended up like them.

So, when I drop a handful of change in a cup or I slip a dollar out a window or I buy a food pantry package for the holidays at the grocery store, I’m doing it for all of us — them and myself and the pure possibility of what one off chance might offer to someone who needs just a little boost today. Because while living on the edge of material ruin is no damn’ fun, living in an impoverished soul is that much worse.

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