Full of love, never alone

I was talking with a colleague yesterday during lunch and the topic of giving back came up. How often do we sit in our own world and think about how hard our life is each day? What if we took time each week to help out another individual? I do not mean just to sit and listen. I mean something that we do with our entire body. We help out in a soup kitchen, donate our time in a homeless shelter, adopt a family, be a big brother or sister.

I spent many hours each week doing community service in college. There was a part of me that related to those in need. Obviously I did not relate to the incarcerated youth I worked with each week. I related to their need and desire to matter. I related to their desire to be cared for, loved, and respected. I taught a writing course one evening a week, and while there were times where I was absolutely out of my element (not on the writing portion) but on relating to teenage boys who did something in their life to be incarcerated. How did I have a clue what they needed? How do we ever really know what another individual needs?

Back to my lunch conversation. We discussed that many of us in our own ways want to support and give to others in our community.  At times when we might feel most alone in our life and might not know how to give to others is when our world has been turned upside down. Yet, maybe that is the time when we need to give the most. When giving pulls us out of our own mucky world and shows us all that we truly have each day. How do we do it though? How do we get out of our comfort zone and take the leap to get out of our own world and make the difference in someone else’s life?

I have always told Chris that whatever child/children we might have, community service, taking care of our neighbors, and giving back is something that will be integral to how we raise them. I want them to see the difference between the have and have-nots. I want them to know that the world is full of people who are very different. We should never take for granted where we come from and all that we have in the world. Sometimes our gratitude comes from seeing all that we have through the lens of another person. If we are full of love to give to others how can we ever feel alone?

What if you became invisible?

I am not going to lie, I shed a tear. Well a few throughout this video. It hits your emotional core. It makes you think what if that were me? Well at least that is what I thought. See I remember a time as a kid when we almost became homeless. My mom was sick and did not have a job, our house was foreclosed on, and we did not know what would happen next. In the end we never lived on the streets, or in a homeless shelter. My sister stayed with a family friend, my mom went into a nursing home, and I stayed with my grandma. So we were split up, but we had a place to live. I am saying all this because I should have compassion for the homeless, and yet I walk on by like many do.

Which maybe is why this video had such an emotional twist for me. It is a video I found on Fast Company about how we usually walk by the homeless. I have to admit with the magnitude of homeless individuals we have in Portland it is easy to walk by without noticing. Maybe it is because you never know if you can trust whether or not the panhandling is legitimate or not. This video, however, makes you look at it in a different way.

First, a bit of context. The New York City Recuse Mission set out to show folks the invisibility of homeless in New York. They approached a few individuals to pose as homeless people and then had them on the street as their family walked down that same street. Their family each walked by without recognizing them. It was all caught on video, and the family was later shown how they walk right past their loved ones. It is all part of their campaign: “Have the Homeless Become Invisible?” I love the idea. I could use my own waking up on interacting with the homeless in Portland.

What did you think? Any change of thought? A bit of a mind shift? What if that was you?