Last night, I was elated to have a few dollars to eat at In ‘n’ Out Burger. While I sat and waited for my oh so good yet oh so bad indulgence, I noticed a homeless man walking around asking for spare change so that he could buy some french fries. Most… no every person he asked turned him down. I think it was because he was either really drunk or so lonely that he was on the brink of sort of losing his mind. I mean, he was drooling a bit and couldn’t walk very well… and his speech was very slurred and quite loud.
My heart went out to him as everyone he approached turned away or squirmed in discomfort from having to witness or maybe even be part of the “spectacle” he was making.
I wanted to walk up to him and give him my left over change which was more than half of what he needed to purchase fries… but part of me was also uncomfortable being brought into his awareness. He eventually did approach the bench I was sitting on and slurred out, “Excuse me, do you have spare change so I can buy french fries?” Everyone else in my area either looked down or pretended to be busy. I reached in my pocket and pulled out the change I had and handed it to him noticing that his hand was wet, so I diligently dropped the change in, trying to be full of unconditional love.
His eyes lit up like a little boy and he said, “THANK YOU!” I smiled and watched him get in line to order his fries. As he stood waiting, he looked at me and waved like a little boy who was having THE BEST day of his life… “I’m gonna get some FRENCH FRIES!!!!!!” I felt sort of like the mom observing her kids at the McDonalds Play Palace. I waved back from my bench trying to feel comfortable and stay centered in my own choices/loving rather than judgment from others…. or even from myself.
When he had his precious fries he gleefully walked up to me and said, “Thank you! Here have a fry.” I said, “Oh thank you!!! but I am going to get some of my own… you keep them ALL.” He persisted and eventually I took one… wanting to eat it and show by example that he is worthy… but also wanting to protect my own health because he was drooling. So, I held onto it and he said, “I love LOVE. Thank you. I love you… You are nice.” (I didn’t get a creepy vibe from it… I think he was just acknowledging universal love and compassion). I wanted to say something like, “You are loved… I’m so glad you exist!!”… but I didn’t want to attract more attention… so I smiled and said, “Thank you.”
He went on his way and I walked away feeling a little happy to have helped him and a little sad that I stayed small and didn’t express compassion the way I would have wanted for fear of judgment from deviating too far from social norms. I am quite grateful I met him though… as I understand it, he served as a brilliant teacher in getting me to think bigger in terms of compassion… he certainly brought me out of my comfort zone… and isn’t that where the best learning and growth takes place?
Rob Brezsny said, “The greatest gift you can give might be the gift that you yourself were never given. Give that gift…Heal yourself by healing others.”
I’ve always wanted to be loved and accepted just as I am in any moment with non-judgment and no condemnation for where ever I am in my life… Well, in honor of being the change I wish to see in the world, I was given a brilliant opportunity to give what I always wanted and to be aware enough to practice non-judgment and non-condemnation. For that, I am very grateful..
Afterward, I got to thinking…. Since I believe we are all one, the discomfort I felt in his presence must have been a reflection of a disowned aspect of my own self and his existence triggered that part of me and caused me to feel resistance in showing him (or really myself) love…. I love that I was given a chance to give the gift of unconditional love not only to a valuable person…. but also to myself.