To many of us, when we think of homelessness, we think of gray haired senior citizen pushing a shopping cart and talking to her ill fitting tattered scarf. Do some folks experiencing homelessness look like this? Sure. But do all? Do most? I argue that they don’t. I say that we see the homeless we allow ourselves to see, that society has conditioned ourselves to see, but don’t always open our eyes to the rest.
To me, a homeless person looks like a mother teaching her baby boy to crawl. A homeless person looks like a neighbor making sure the community garden doesn’t dry out. A seven-year old girl finding sailboats in the clouds. A second-semester college student balancing four classes, a newborn baby, and finding a place to sleep at night. The woman checking out at Foods-Co hoping you don’t notice her paying in food stamps. The chubby faced little boy playing pirate ship on the playground with your son. A father, showing up for his kid, like his father never did for him.
What does a homeless person look like? You and me. Look around you. Homelessness is not the crux of one’s identity. It is just one of the many musical notes making us the melody of life. A lack of housing presents many unfathamobale obsticles, but it does not, as Thoroue would say, “suck the marrow out of life”. The afternoon soda-pop, the twang of guitar strings, the warmth of puppy kisses, the crunch of autum leaves, or the first rainfall in an endless drought—it is these moments that momentarily thwart the inequality of life. It is these moments that define the joy of living.