Monday, July 1, 2013

Inspiration Monday: Mutually Inclusive

Books Again, Decatur, GA. As far as I know, books are regular price but hair costs extra.
Sometimes things seem so black-and-white separate, there is no reason to consider that they could ever go together.

Maybe we should.

I'm not saying we should go and put bologna on an Oreo or anything--I like those in black and white just fine, but sometimes its a good idea to challenge all of those little fences in our brains and see if the things they're keeping apart really need to be kept apart.

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently attended an audiobook launch that the author was unofficially calling a "bookless booksigning." I thought it was clever and it caught my attention because that is a thing that seems impossibly impossible, but she made it possible anyway (and it was awesome).

Earlier that same day, I had an interesting conversation with one of my formerly homeless clients. We were on our way back from an appointment that happened to be in one of the ritzier areas of town. While we drove along, she stared out at the expensive houses, each one big enough to practically envelop her entire apartment complex and fronted by fresh-combed lawns the size of parks.

She shook her head. "A lot of these rich folks don't know how bad they got it," she said.

This woman had been homeless for the better part of a decade, slipping in and out of shelters when she could, going without regular meals or medical care, and refusing all friendships because, as she once told me, the surest thing she ever learned was that people can't hurt you if you don't let them close enough to get at you. 

"Tell me how the rich folks have it bad," I said. It wasn't a question because I wasn't asking. I already believed her.

"Those poor rich folks don't know nothing," she said. "If something bad ever came along, they couldn't survive it. They ain't ready for it. They think that everything is all okay, but they really don't know what they don't know."

"Some of them do," I said. "Some of them worked their way up just like you're doing. Some of them know."

"Well, they ain't the poor ones," she said.

She went on to tell me about her grievances with the "wealthy poor." 

"There are two kinds of poor folks," she said, happy to be educating me so that I would know what I don't know. "There's the poor folks like me that worked hard all their lives and then had it all taken away from them and spend every day trying to get back up on their feet. Then there's the wealthy poor. Those people are the ones who could do better but won't. They're the ones that take up all the help from the people who really need it. They give the rest of the poor people a bad name so that nobody gets the help they need."

From this woman who spent long years feeling that anger was her only currency and that her voice was as pointless as another hot breeze in summer, came truth as sharp as citrus tang. Having money doesn't make you rich and not having it doesn't make you poor.

She might not have an income yet, but she's not poor, not with sharp eyes like those.

She had it right. In the end, no matter what your bank balance says and no matter where you sleep, we are all just scuffed-up, soft-bellied human beings.

Now you know. 


Chris Baker said...


Mandy said...

well composed, and a good point