When I thought about writing this post, it took some time to figure out how or more importantly, why? My mind is always working on ways to be unique and different because I feel this way it is easier to get noticed. One thing I do know from my travels around the planet is that everyone is valuable to each other and humility is essential. We can find value in almost everything if we look hard enough.
For example, I once met a homeless guy in Berlin who did not want money just food. He asked if I could get him some food instead of just giving him money. So, I did and joined him on the side of the street in my suit. This guy had an incredible story, like most homeless, often do. I mean you cannot be anything but a spectacular survivor to be able to make it on the streets. But, what was the most striking was his demeanor; not resigned, not cynical or bitter. His statement was simple. “I got me here, and I can get me back out, I am just not ready. Society puts so much pressure on us to conform, be this way or that, and even if you ignore it, you are faced with it wherever you go. Look up at the next person walking by and tell me what you see”.
I did as he suggested and what I saw was people purposefully looking away. Or some gave an indirect look as not to be confronted with someone in need. If they did look, it was something of a downward look of disgust, so yes, I got it. Little did I know that moment helped me a few years later when I, too found myself on the street in Berlin. I was worried and felt distressed at first. I saw my friends who were suddenly embarrassed to speak with me or those who said they were my friends.
I was questioning my “identity” at the time. What or who was I? I was not just some homeless guy, nor was I only the Best-Selling author who people knew from TV. I also wasn’t just the Disabled Combat Veteran. My first action was to release myself from my chains — and societies’ — was to drop any false identity or impression about me. Why was this important to me? I needed to be authentic. I needed to find the truth of who I am.
Even most homeless take on a role. It is a role for self-protection of their beliefs, or to find a reason to justify their situation. But, I refused to do that. I was where I was because of me. Once I came to that conclusion, I knew I could get out…but I realized I was not ready. It was important that I explore the situation deeper without outside pressure. We often don’t understand how much weight we and society put on us to act a certain way. In just about any role we take on, one is expected to perform, be and do things a certain way. It is almost like we are programmed to turn into robots just following commands because that is the expectation. So, I needed to be able to reflect and figure out what I wanted. I needed to follow my heart and my intuition, not my logical brain.
So, I did little to change the situation besides clearing up any problems I had with the state or bill collectors. I did not hide from them, and I told them I would pay when I could. They threatened me, and I said “go for it, what will you take from someone who has nothing”, so it did not affect me.
The feeling of freedom was exhilarating; no timescale, no wake-up, no sleep time, no thoughts of “oh I need to”, nothing. I just “was.” To make it clear; I did not live on the street, I did not ask for handouts and most did not know I was even homeless. I spent most nights at friends’ houses on their sofas or in my car at the time. I dressed well and showered at the gym where I had a free membership from a past deal I did, which meant I also trained, this kept my mind and body on track.
Those few months went by like a breeze, and I cherish them to this day because it taught me that we control our reality one hundred percent. Yes, we can lie and pretend, or we can face the truth and unload the false pressures and expectations so many have. It is indeed up to us. These days I choose to merely extract any doubt from my mind, body, and spirit; when I do something I either do it, or I do not, nothing in between…thanks to the military for the structure, and to that one man on the street for the insight into humility, I am armed to face anything that comes my way.