I have decided to repost this but have removed the part that led me to feel too exposed. And, thanks to those who wrote me to ask about it. From now on, no posts from this site until late afternoon. Your points were taken.
A long time ago, I had a tendency to romanticize the nomad life, the hobo life. When I was a kid, I used to see groups of guys down by the river, cooking over their open fire. It looked like camping out.
In the 60s and 70s, many people simply opted out of the middle class life. They wanted freedom and adventure.
When I read "The Drifters" by James Michener as a teenager, it brought about more fantasies of nomadism and free-spiritedness... but Michener took me to Europe. (The fact that I was reading it by the pool at my parents' house in an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles isn't lost on me. Please don't judge me too harshly. I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.)
That same year, I read "Babbit", a novel about a salesman whose spirit was smothered by corporate and middle class life. The last line in the book is "I never did a single thing I wanted to do."
It sent a shiver of fear down my spine.
I will never be like that, I thought. I'm going to live free and experience so many things! I'll buy a van and travel the country, no ties.
I knew a woman when I lived in Santa Cruz who was voluntarily homeless. She needed all of her money for college. She worked full time, went to school and lived in her van. At the time, I thought that was a really cool idea. She was brave and bohemian, somehow breaking the mold, willing to do whatever she had to do to get her education. She was fearless.
In the late 60s, I traveled to San Francisco during the Summer of Love and saw the hippies hanging out, smoking dope, selling things on the street ~ living in freedom. I thought yeah.. that's how life is supposed to be.
Things have changed since those many years ago. Or maybe I've just grown up.
I now see the dark underside of it. I've been duly educated through a variety of sources and I no longer have any romanticized notions of "voluntary homelessness".
Geez, I was such an idiot!
Homelessness is cruel. Homelessness is soul-sucking. Homelessness is something that shouldn't be allowed in any civilized society.
But the real question is the solution. I have my own ideas on this and they include the "r"-word, one that dare not be spoken outloud. Not in this day and age. Simple kindness isn't going to solve the problem.
And I recognize that we all face the possibility. What would most of us do?
Have you ever thought about that? What would you do if you became homeless?
I admit this much. I am a new soul and not a very strong person. I would not survive homelessness. I know this. If that happened, my life would be over.
What would you do? Really. Think about it.