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On Charity

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I have to say that being homeless has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

I had given to charity on occasion, and was a regular at Goodwill. I had even done some volunteer work.

I would help friends and family out, particularly financially – when they needed it.

But I had never – not once – been on the receiving end of charity.

It is not that I was too proud for it.

It is that I just did not have a need to understand it.

When I turned 18, I was making $10 an hour, not long after, when I turned 23, I was making $70,000 a year. When I was 25, I got my first contract over the $100k mark – at $65 an hour and reported $130,000 in taxes that year. From there, I learned the art of creating companies to shield my income, and from that point forward I only had one single year for the next 17 years where I made less than $100,000 in a given year.

Money had always come easy for me. I wouldn’t say ‘big money’ by any measure. I had made just enough to get by with the lifestyle I was leading, but it was nowhere near enough to lead the lifestyle I truly wanted to live.

So I started saving for that rainy day where I would have enough to buy a custom 737. I started saving for that rainy day I could hire an architect to create my custom house with a stream running through it and a waterfall. I started saving for that day I could go and pay cash for a late model custom built Ferrari, direct from Italy. I started saving for that condo in Rocky Pointe, Puerto Penasco. I started saving for that aerobatic 152 plane I could fly myself around in.

Whoever has that money I saved for my rainy day, days like today where it really is raining and I am chilled to the bone after being the homeless guy who’s absolutely soaked.

I am no longer angry at it being taken from me. That’s something I had to get over.

In the meantime, though, I have learned a thing or two about charity.

I’m not talking about giving a buck or two to your church and you thinking you have done well.

I am not talking about a few volunteer hours you did at a soup kitchen that makes you feel better about yourself.

You’re not touching REAL homeless people, and in fact you’re doing nothing but stroking your own ego.

I am talking about the honest to goodness random acts of uncalculated kindness that I have had to find during the course of this ‘journey’.

For instance, my jacket is porous and is not water proof, and after doing laundry yesterday, this morning it got absolutely soaked as I walked in to Starbuck’s this morning.

Every day, I walk by Roxy Cleaner’s at 10925 Ventura Blvd, in Studio City, CA 91604 but today was different, I popped in and told the lady who works there “I am homeless, and I got soaked on the way in, could I ask you to dry my coat, I don’t have money to pay for it.”, To which she said “No problem”, and she now has my jacket and is drying it off.

It’s supposed to rain again tonight, but at least all my bedding and jacket will be dry and smelling good again.

For Christmas (and my birthday), my friend Ray (which has been a godsend) – gave me a gift certificate to City Wok at 10949 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604, http://www.citywok.com/, literally a door down from Starbuck’s. I’ve met the guys who run the place, there’s a waiter named Daniel who’s bought me lunch, and there’s Oscar and MG which have treated me well with a free meal. No matter. It’s like I would never have seen the good in people had I not had these experiences.

City Wok’s menu’s here:

I mean. I used to give to my friends, and not organizations – because I wanted to help someone I knew. Eventually I knew they would find themselves thanking me for helping them.

I never expected there’d come a point they’d completely ignore me.

But it’s irrelevant.

Whether it’s at Ralph’s – 10901 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604 – where Tony, Svetlana, Brandon, Jessica, along with MANY others I haven’t named – have been more than helpful, whether it’s a bucket full of chicken they had cooked too much of, or a gift certificate to Ralph’s, or free samples from the deli area… These men and women are helping me realize the importance of being real.

Or it’s at Starbuck’s – and it’s the many, many amazing who come in here and many who work here. Whether it’s Catlin, Carlos, Tim, RJ, Slater, Emily, Ashley, Mia, Heather, Blake, Jimmie, and more. So much more…

While my life and living situation is not preferred at the moment.

While living in a tent on rainy days blows.

I can’t help but wonder if I’d have been dead from a drug overdose if I actually had my money.

I can’t help but wonder if I would have ever gotten different and less cynical perspective on people.

I’m learning how to be a storyteller.

I had just never considered my life was worthy of a story.

Until I started looking at it with the right set of eyes.

You’re not a good person because you give to charity and volunteer.

You are a good person when someone asks for help and you do not berate them for who they are and what you think they should be doing different.

It’s ok not to give.

Rejection is easy for a homeless person.

It’s just not cool to spit on them and pretend you were ever there for them to begin when you never really were.

On that note. I would love to see more homeless people like this:

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