Age has granted me the clarity needed to comprehend something that has plagued my understanding since I was very young. Even as a six-year-old I remember watching people hurt. I remember watching those hurt people turn away and push away those people they longed to be close to.
I understood, as a teenager, that the reason for this was primarily fear of rejection. Never short on hubris, or words, I have attempted to open their eyes to the fact that they hold the power to end their own pain and the pain of others by reaching out to them. I have achieved varying degrees of success, understandably. I need people to understand that they can change everything by turning toward people and sharing their fears and passions. That by sharing our fears and passions we open the floor to others to do the same, bolstering them by our courage.
What age has finally granted me is the knowledge that reaching out to others when one is afraid requires a profound amount of courage that most people cannot summon. And, that when a person (of any age) can and does summon the courage, one must act to recognize it for what it is, no matter the outcome.
Every time I see someone panhandling, sleeping on the street, or hitchiking with a large pack my heart catches. I think back to my long hours of waiting at bus stops in the cold, snow, and rain. I sat watching hundreds of cars go by with only the driver inside. I was resentful then and still often feel guilty if I drive anywhere alone in my minivan.
I watched the people pass by as I sat. I was hungry, tired, cold and wet. I never asked anyone for anything, but I wished desperately that someone would offer me a kind word, a snack, or a ride. I imagined sliding into a warm car and being driven in comfort before being dropped off close to my house. It rarely if ever happened.
I know what it feels like to wonder where I would sleep at night. I know what kind of desperate obsession hunger becomes when you can see others eating things you cannot have. I can easily disregard the choices that may have led people to the point where they are now: standing with a cardboard sign. I simply see a person suffering, that could benefit from any kindness.
Nowadays I rarely carry cash. All my income is direct-deposited and I don’t often need cash. In those moments when I see someone who is so very much in need, I often wish I had something to give them.
I have recently hit upon an idea I am excited about: care packs. The concept is simple; you buy a box of zipper bags and pack them full of small items that a person living rough or down-on-their-luck might need. You then keep them in your car. When you come across someone in need, you give them a care pack instead of, or in addition to, just handing out cash.
Something like this would have made a world of difference for me. I’ll include a list of items that might be good at the bottom of this post.
This is an article about some people in Jacksonville that have been helping people in this way. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.jacksonville.com/amp/5556519002
Here is my list: Snack bars, protein snacks, rasins, hand sanitizer, face masks, tissues or toilet paper, liquid soap, shampoo, toothbrush/toothpaste, socks, deodorant, soap and washcloth or wipes, a trash bag, a few dollars or a gift card to a grocery store or fast food. * I pack a couple with some feminine hygiene, too. In case I meet a person who needs those.
Drop a comment below with your thoughts? Share pictures if you make some packs of your own!
For those that don’t know, I am writing a memoir. I made the decision to write it when I was 8 years old and have even begun the writing process twice. Both attempts ended with the destruction of the computers the drafts were saved on. This time, I am saving it in a cloud, and on several devices. It will be completed.
The story will follow my first 18 years. It will not be easy for some people to read and will be a long and thoughtful process for me as well. Though those closest to me will not be surprised by the story arc, there will be details and pieces that surprise everyone.
Though I am open about my experience of abuse and neglect at the hands of my birth-mother and her sister with anyone who will listen, there are still many details I have yet to share with anyone. There are pieces of my story, details of my response to the events of my past, and aspects of the healing process that I have kept away. I have been waiting for this project. I plan to pour those things into my memoir with the intent of inspiring those who are seeking to heal themselves.
For accountability’s sake, I want to share that my goal is to continue to work steadily towards completion. I hope to have a first draft completed by my birthday in December. From there I fully intend to seek a traditional publishing contract until I am successful. I expect I will continue to revise, revision and review endlessly.
I have completed a prologue and 3 chapters so far. It’s getting real. I hope you’ll follow along with me on my journey as I work through the process of finally completing this project. I have carried it in my heart for 30 years. It is now time to bring it forth.
Because I have this website, I will share useful resources and other helpful material I have found and collected. I am an avid reader of memoirs and will review my favorites as well.