For most of my life, up until a couple of years ago, I lived under the pretense that in order to appreciate others you must first be shown appreciation. Due to a large amount of factors that came against me, I found it almost impossible to appreciate others. There were times when that did change however due to previous hurts and fears I could never seem to show appreciation to an individual on an ongoing basis.
About 18 months ago, against the advice of almost everyone who knew me (my family and one other being the exception), I decided to become voluntarily homeless. Some suggested this was a sort of self punishment, and if I’m honest with myself that was partly the case, although my real drive was to find that appreciation.
In the year that I was homeless I experienced that appreciation on multiple levels but also saw many other facets of life that I was not expecting. I lived with baby killers, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, thieves, junkies, crack addicts, manic depressives, divorcees, couples, transvestites, drag queens, lawyers, doctors, bankers, politicians, dentists, bikies, Europeans, North and South Americans, Africans, Asians, Islanders, Australians Citizens and Aborigines. Each one showing me a different side of life and love in their own ways.
At the end of my time travelling the streets of this country I was broken down and felt like I was on death’s door. My body wasn’t working properly and my mind was disturbed beyond imagination. At one point, when lying in a public bathroom, I felt my mind dripping off into ‘oblivion’; the only words for it. I would regularly wake screaming in the night or throw myself out of bed, into the wall, whilst in the middle of sleep. I had taken on PTSD and would regularly break down in tears for no reason. I had seen so much hatred, contempt and conditional ‘love’ that my reality of a heavenly world had been smashed to smithereens. But I had made a promise to myself and others that I would see this through no matter what the cost, so I persisted.
In October last year I stopped being homeless but I still had this hunger inside me to figure out why people can be left to rot without any notice from passers-by, other than a shake of the head or an upturned nose. I had met these people, these homeless’, and I had found people who would accept you no matter what they received in return. They saw the benefit in loving regardless of the personal cost for they knew what the alternative meant to the opposing party; loneliness.
I realised that our job in this life is to love those around us no matter what the cost. Being appreciated is an asset that will possibly never be personally attained but it doesn’t mean you can’t give that asset to others. These people had shown me that we may never be or feel appreciated, even though we are all alike, but we all have the ability to appreciate those around us and in doing so will often be appreciated in return.
Next time you see that guy sleeping in the gutter with a sign that screams for donations, give it to him. Next time you see that remnant 19 year old pacing the street at 1 am wearing a t shirt in winter, give her your jacket or get her a hotel room for the night. Yes they may buy boos, drugs or gamble your gift away but what if they don’t? What if you are that one person who makes them feel appreciated today because they can finally get a hot coffee and feel like a human again. What if they do have a starving family? More importantly, what if you save their life by changing their perception of love?
I’m thankful that I learnt that appreciation is the currency of this life and I appreciate all those who took the time to appreciate me in that dark time. Be blessed and please remember that I appreciate you taking the time to read this and so do all the other boys I said I would write this for.