Skid Row: The 'Reality' of It
This morning consisted of volunteering with a local charity that deals with homeless youth here in Los Angeles. You see, in my journey, I ask myself "why" a lot. Why do I want to talk to this person? Why do I want to eat this? Why do I want to join that? Obviously it is mainly to get into that mantra of understanding the purpose of what I want, especially out of game-time decision bar meeting moments. My only problem with all of this is that when I ask myself why I want to volunteer, I can't really explain it coherently. So let me throw this into words.
At first I was vague, just get into SOMETHING in LA. A charity sounded like a good idea in a new city because I realized that with that SOMETHING, I kind of wanted to be introduced to people who I could trust - and what better than to get in with some folks doing selfless shit.....Lets be honest, I also already work in a shady fucking industry in a seedy city known for dirt. So knowing some of these people would be great. I wanted something that could definitely cleanse my palate. Its like ginger between two delicious sushi rolls...and back to it...but I am so craving sushi now.
As I joined I got my initial fix. But as I normally do, I spiraled..... talking to the youth and hearing their stories as well as some of the organization's stories through the years.... it was sobering. I genuinely wanted to get more involved. I could roll with the underlying theological meanings because watching the staff and residents alone interact, not only with each other but with the homeless population at Skid Row is.....its hard to put into words and today... it became harder.
After the provisions were passed out, mind you it is still barely a dent because the homeless population is so heavy in Los Angeles, it truly is a problem that needs way more awareness than it currently does. I digress....
After the provisions were passed out, we traveled to another organization with homeless families and adults still from Skid Row. There, some of the current residents spoke to youth about their journey and where they are currently at in life. It was four gentlemen who were either going through the current homeless program with the house or they were counselors whom were previously homeless.
Joe, James, Tyrone, and David. - They deserve their own line.
As the four gentlemen finished their respected stories, all chronicling their battles with loss, suicide, addiction, loneliness, and eventual recovery - we thanked them and I couldn't help but raise my hand to ask one last question: Aside from the relationship they found with God (Theological Undertones I referenced previously with the missions and charities), - I asked, "how important was it to surround yourself with the type of people you could open up to?" You see I asked this question because while doing my research on the current charity in itself during the volunteer process, I read a lot about youth, especially males, not being able to or wanting to open up or talk about things. That machismo, I can handle this myself bullshit that is constantly fed and pushed back to youth as "gay".
As I wrapped my question, Tyrone quickly responded, "its everything.." - You see for Tyrone, it wasn't until last year that he found relationships that allowed him to open up and to encourage him with some positive fucking reinforcement....Those relationships not only got him out of a dark place mentally, it helped him accept others around him, it fought racism, it fought suicide, it battled addiction.... that moment, I wanted to feel...I wanted to relate... and I did.... And my reason for wanting to volunteer shifted in my mind...."WHAT THE FUCK....am I doing this because of me? Dude...get your shit together."
I am grateful more than ever for the relationships that have come within my life that have allowed me to open up and share experiences and feelings. Whether it be to my family, strangers, or friends.. And to the people who exhibit such positivity, peace, and who are able to see the glass being half full - I find myself gravitating towards more than ever here in Los Angeles. Am fortunate to surround myself with people who genuinely understand that the world is a shit place but with the right humans, a dent could be made in the right fucking direction.
Now I am not looking for praise...this isn't some self righteous, kneel you pleb-type bullshit rant. Its a reflection of.....this could have been me. All I have really known in life is to flee situations .... Fight & Flight.... there is no "or". I have been fortunate that things have worked out in my favor but in that moment, I understood that I have been one bad decision away. I remember couch surfing for months because I didn't have a place, it happened again here in Los Angeles - and those that helped will never truly understand what that means to me, especially the more that I think about it. I realize I could have spiraled with addiction over numerous relationships, whether romantic or platonic. I realized I could offed myself over relationships, again - whether romantic or platonic. I have been on the cusp of all kinds of scenarios noodling around in the back of my mind, I am a creative... its depressingly beautiful and the scenarios that I come up with are poetic but I constantly have the right people to talk to. I had the channel to express and explain myself at darker times and not many people do or want to, especially men. Its seen as such a "pussy" thing to do. Now break that down even further within cultures, religions, etc and you can see even more what forces males into such high homeless, addiction, and suicide rates.
Loving yourself is important, absolutely, but its hard to deny that the people you surround yourself with ultimately play a role in your growth and life as well.
As much as you need to drive yourself in life, having those occasional pitstops and hitchhikers will definitely help you along the way....
The Journey Continues...
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