Contrast of Life

sleeping1

I lock the doors to my home and take off on a leisurely bike ride. Meanwhile, the man makes his bed on the hard concrete under the bridge. The contrast of life.

Each morning I wake up and pour myself a cup of coffee. I make breakfast, work, run errands and eat dinner. At the close of the day, while relaxing in my warm and comfortable home, I wrap myself up in a blanket and tell the world goodnight.

While I sleep in the safety of my bedroom, the man abides alone in the darkness. His body small and frail. So small that I barely saw him as I rode past his sleeping body. Had the light not shown under the bridge right when it had, I may have run him over.

It was early in the evening and he was already asleep. Maybe he sleeps during the daylight hours and is awake at night. I imagine it’s safer that way. Or perhaps he has already given up on life and sleeping is how he gets through each day. He was alone, and his only visible possession was the thin blanket he was curled up on.

As we continued on our ride, we found that he was not the only one. Many of the bridges we rode underneath were temporary housing units for those without homes. One bridge was occupied by four people.

On our return trip, the sun was beginning to set. As the darkness rolled in, so did more people. The bridges that were empty earlier in the evening had begun to fill up. Under a couple of them were people in pairs sitting together. Under another there were two men having a lively conversation about their day’s adventures. One of which was clearly upset.

But most of the people were nearly invisible as they sat alone in the corners, hiding in the darkness.

Riding through their ‘homes’ was an eerie experience, but what really got me was the contrast of our lives. I realize that some people put themselves in that position by the choices that they make, and that if they really wanted out then they could find a way. However, that is not the case for all of them. Sometimes life deals us a heavy blow and we find ourselves in situations we never would have imagined being in.

Regardless of the circumstances that placed those people there, I couldn’t help but to feel a slight sense of guilt knowing that while they were preparing to sleep on the hard concrete, I was headed toward my comfortable home. A home with walls, heat and all the simple luxuries that we so often take for granted.

We sometimes complain that life is unfair or too difficult. We whine over petty things like burnt popcorn or a flat tire. Sometimes it takes a real life look at the world around us to realize just how lucky we truly are.

While writing this, my thoughts are on the frail man who was curled into a ball under the bridge. I wonder what he’s doing today. Maybe next time I head that direction, I’ll pack some sandwiches for him and his neighbors.

Seeing their ‘homes’ reminded me of something I sometimes forget; to not take for granted the small things in life.

We can be so quick to complain about trivial things. What we fail to realize is that what we complain about, may be the very thing that someone else is wishing for.

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23 Responses to Contrast of Life

  1. Doobster418 says:

    Good post. So many of us who are fortunate to have a roof over our head, clothes on our back, and food on our table take those things for granted and turn a blind eye on the homeless. I wrote a post about it around six months ago, blind eye. Unfortunately, nothing in the way I see the homeless has really changed since then.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Yes, we are very fortunate to have all that we do. I remember that post. You had mentioned not turning a blind eye to them anymore. Have you given anyone food, drink or clothing since that post? I don’t think that we must give to all of them, as some of them don’t even truly need it. Some people make a small fortune out there begging on the corner. But every now and then, there’s that special one that stands out to us more than the rest, the one who we ‘just know’ needs the help.

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  2. 50djohnson says:

    This was an inspirational ride you took as this really hit ‘home’ with me. Having had three major surgeries in 9 months this year…I am just beginning to recover from the last one. I was either in the hospital, in rehab, or in my recliner all winter and summer. I found myself longing to go out to eat… or just take a walk, ore take a ride in the car. While talking to one of my friends yesterday, she began complaining hot it was outside, and how her vacations plans had been delayed, etc. Seeing things through new eyes, I very quietly said to her,” At least you can walk, and bend over when you drop something.” Thank you.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I’m sorry to hear about all of your surgeries. I cannot imagine. But you are very right in saying that even just being able to walk, to bend over and to hold items, are all things that we should be thankful for. Not everyone has those abilities. There is always someone somewhere who has it worse than us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Every day MeWhoAmI, every day. I hope to remember what I have. And to give to those who need what it is I can give. Fantastic post.

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  4. Doobster418 says:

    “Have you given anyone food, drink or clothing since that post?” Rarely. Upon occasion, if I have any change in my pocket, I will fish it out and give it to someone, but I rarely carry around lose change, so I suppose the honest answer is no.

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  5. DailyMusings says:

    Beautiful and thoughtful post. It is so true we should never take for granted the things we think are so simple, like shelter, food and clothing.

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  6. We, at least Americans, conveniently fall senseless to what we don’t want to see, hear, believe or feel. We can be a greedy, selfish lot. Yet there is an increasing number of us who are awaekning to what really matters and we’re doing things about what not long ago was ignored. We’re rounding the bend, slowly. But we’re acting — in compassionate ways. Good topic. Good post!

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    • mewhoami says:

      You are right there. Many people are selfish and greedy and it’s easy to slip into that mental state if they’re not careful. As you said though, it does seem that more people are stepping up to the plate and trying to make a difference. I hope more people jump on board.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Cindi says:

    Such a thoughtful and observant post.

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  8. Excellent post! You articulated beautifully the thoughts I have been consumed with as of late. Thank you! Catie

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  9. Great reminder of all that we do have to be thankful for, and that we are made to help others. I think that making some sandwiches is a great idea!

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  10. suzjones says:

    I agree with your comment above that some don’t truly need it. When I was visiting my son in another city last year, I was staggered by the number of ‘street’ people and begging that I saw around me. My son (who had worked with some of these people in the past) pointed out several to me that he knew had homes but sat begging to get money for drugs.
    However, there were many, many that I could tell were legit and I stopped and emptied the change from my purse for one of these people.
    I always said that next time, I would go and buy them a coffee and a sandwich instead but the last time I was in that city, I did not see any.
    I applaud your wish to take them food and hope you follow through on it.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Exactly. Some of those people live in nicer homes than I do.That is one reason why I rarely give them money. I will however, give them food. Oddly enough, many of the people who ask for food, turn down the offer for food; showing their true motive.

      As you said though there are many that are legit. They will take food, drink or anything else we can give. If you do give them a coffee or sandwich then that would be great. A small deed to us, is a desperately needed meal for them. I do plan to make the sandwiches. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to make the trip again soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. April says:

    I agree, we complain about our struggles and ‘pretend’ to not see the homeless or hungry. A friend of mine recently lost her daughter – one struggling from a mental illness that they tried to help her with, but one has to be a willing participant. When she reached adulthood, she left home. She left the treatment she was receiving. She became a homeless person who used drugs because she wasn’t being properly treated for her underlying disease – mental illness. She lost her life, under a bridge due to a drug overdose. I can’t tell you the pain my friend is going through because I can’t imagine it. Guilt is a huge issue for her—we can lead a horse to water, but we can’t make them drink.

    There may be people who choose this way of life, and many who have no other choice. My husband always says that we are all given the same opportunities in life. I disagree with him. We all come from varying backgrounds, and some give up before they start to live, due to the environment they learn and grow in. I’m not sure we can help a person by giving them water, coffee, or sandwiches. It may fill their bellies, but it won’t change their life. THEY have to want to change their lives, and as a society, we need to have the resources available to help them. What we are doing, isn’t enough.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s daughter. I can’t imagine being a parent and going through something like that. Many times the homeless are suffering with some type of mental illness and it’s sad that there are not enough resources to help them.

      I agree about sandwiches not helping them, at least not in the long run. They need a change of direction, a change of mind, a change of life. That is something that must come from them, from their own motivation. A sandwich would be to simply get them by.

      I somewhat agree with both you and your husband. People do come from different backgrounds, some of which make it very difficult to find success, but we are all given the same basic opportunities. It might just take more work from some than from others.

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