PORTRAITURE IN HOMELESSNESS
The third and most impactful spark of this collection of photos occurred Thursday, May 30, 2013 in Jupiter. I was on a jog around my beautiful backyard- Dubois Park and the Jupiter inlet. For three days, a powerful and moving thought of compassion had been trumpeting around in my head urging me to go out of my way to convince someone who feels alone in this world that they are, in fact, not alone. The compassionate Mother Teresa apparently put this thought in the spiritually influential Wayne Dyer’s head- now it is in my head, as it had been for three days leading up to my afternoon jog on May 30.
I had to pee. I turned the corner to enter the men’s bathroom at the Jupiter Inlet, I really had to go. I was in a rush. In the concrete nook outside the men’s bathroom, slept very stinky, disheveled, disgruntled, downtrodden and defeated looking Bill. Instantaneoulsy, I thought these words- “convince a person who thinks they are alone in this world that they are not.” There it was- my opportunity. It smelled of pervasive, pungent solitude and putrid lethargy.
I peed in the bathroom. Washed my hands. Looked in the mirror. I thought about divine love. I opened the door. “Excuse me,” I said loudly. “Excuse me!” He awoke. Looked up. He did smell. I backed up. “Can I help you in any way?” Looking me in the eyes the homeless man answered sadly, “My life is over.”
Thus began my friendship with Bill, a close friendship with The Lords Place, and the rapid momentum of my collection of homeless photos, Portraiture in Homelessness.
Bill stayed Friday to Monday morning at my condo. Monday morning, thank God, The Lord’s Place offered Bill a bed at their very inspired men’s campus in Boynton. I have since learned, through many visits over the past four months, what a tremendously awesome place that men’s campus is.
Bill’s abridged history: Formerly married for 36 years. A father of 2 sons. A grandfather. A destructive tendency to drink too many beers, while sitting on the couch, glaring at Sportscenter on the television. The actual divorce broke him all the way to homelessness. He was arrested and jailed for a year for burglary. He was seeking shelter. The sadness Bill had been dwelling on for two and half years over losing the love and respect of his loved ones through the relentless powers of addiction and mental illness pervaded his personality. The day I met him he was suffering from an inability to make decisions. Suffering in solitary homelessness. This was for a full year following his release from prison when I found him. A nearly empty spirit. A body suffering through the beginning stages of rotting.
“You are not alone and your life isn’t over Bill.” I told him. I told him that again and again. “Dave, I don’t know, Dave,” Bill would say in a questioning and pitiful, broken way.
Bill showered that Thursday night, upon extreme heavy insistence, as well as upon the occassion of my giving him an array of helpful materials (toiletries, towels, under garments, socks, clothing, shoes, cigarettes). For Bill, that shower was one of a handful of showers in a years time. I convinced him that a shower was a small, necessary step in the right direction.
The following morning, upon seeing and smelling that he took that small necessary step forward and upon hearing the love and weakness in his voice, which I picked up on as we spent time in conversation, I decided it would be okay to invite him to my condo, while I did what I could to connect him with The Lord’s Place. Presently wearing his new laundered clothing (my clothing; his new clothing), Bill looked sharp. He looked normal. Handsome.
“Bill,” I said excitedly, “you look like you could go walking around a bookstore and be a regular old guy. You look good man.” Bill looked at me. Hopeful. “Really Dave?” Bill’s eyes held onto a pitiful painful sadness. I looked at him, “Small steps buddy,” I told him. Demonstrating the word tiny with two of my fingers, for emphasis, “Small steps. Bill, like a shower and a change of clothes.” I smiled at my new friend.
PORTRAITURE IN HOMELESSNESS
This album, Portraiture in Homelessness, is a photography collection about awakening to life’s beauty, about seeing through inspired lenses, and about contemplating ourselves as surrounded by the blessings and desires we wish to produce and be at one with in our lives. Or not? Simultaneously, it is also a glimpse into the tao of destitution .
I don’t know if enjoy is the right word. But…