Observation: There are a lot of homeless people on the streets of Toronto. It’s a lot like San Francisco, except these guys have a stunning cleverness about them.
You’re asking what this has to do with addiction, recovery and mental health, and here’s the answer: Whenever I travel and see someone living on the street, I’m reminded of just how easily I could have ended up the same way, and how my demons could have taken me there.
I’ve always been lucky, and perhaps I’m being a bit over-dramatic. Of course, that’s what people like me do. But I look at people down on their luck and think it could happen to any of us, no matter how much money we may come from. We’re always just one step away from the one bad decision that causes us to lose everything.
Fortunately for me, I’ve always been surrounded by people who won’t let me fail.
Anyway, the people on the street around here are interesting. They are surprisingly happy. They take turns sitting on milk crates outside the prime panhandling spots with cap in hand. I walked past one guy and dropped a pocket full of change into his cup. Five minutes later, another guy was on the same crate.
It’s almost like they have a little business going, where they coordinate activity and practice their lines. I can picture them getting together each night under a bridge to take inventory on the daily haul.
Call me something unkind, but I’ve enjoyed talking to some of them. I like their humor. Should they be busy getting themselves off the street and getting their lives in order? Perhaps. But I’m clueless as to the circumstances that brought them to their current realities, so I’m not in a position to judge them.
In a really sick sort of way, I’m glad they’re around to remind me of how lucky I am. No matter how shitty my day is going, it can always be worse. Much worse.
Of course, I’ll bet some of these street walkers look at passers by with some sympathy, because everyone’s imprisoned in a world of corporate pressure and worry about material things.
I wonder if there’s a certain comfort and even happiness to having nothing.
Of course, this whole entry is a case of judging people and wondering who is better than who. I can’t tell if I’m being compassionate or stupid.
But I’m pretty sure that one of these days God will sort it all out for me.