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Are You OK?

A while back, I came across a blog entry via Twitter that brought attention to an Australian social campaign called R U OK? It promotes starting conversations to let people know that they are cared about and to help them voice things that are not OK in their lives so that help can be provided before a situation becomes a crisis. It’s a beautifully simple concept really, and one that could realistically save a life.

This morning, I was reminded of this campaign as I was sitting on my front step waking up with a cup of coffee. This is a small community so most people know each other. When a car drove up slowly into my neighbor’s driveway, I noticed it of course but did not think much of it until the door opened and no one got out. The elderly man in the driver’s seat sat there for a few minutes and then put his head down, chin-to-chest, occasionally looking around then putting his head back down for a couple minutes. From this angle, he was acting as I’ve seen people with dementia act when they are confused, not knowing quite where they are or why.

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Alarmed, I got up but he picked his head back up and reached for something in his car. He seemed OK for the moment but I kept watching. After a few minutes of him just sitting there, his head began to sink again, so I went inside to get my phone in case I needed to call anyone. I headed over to his car and quietly asked him, “Are you OK?”

Startled, he jumped and stared at me for a moment before angrily telling me, “I’m napping!” The tone of voice made me take a step back and apologize, telling him I didn’t know if he needed help and I was just checking on him. He nodded then, and turned to put his head back down.

Since this was not anyone who lived there or anyone I had ever seen, I kept watch from my front step for about 10 minutes longer. Finally, he got out of the car and slowly made it to the front door where my neighbors apparently knew him and they helped him in. I apologized for startling him and was thanked with a smile and a wave that communicated to me, “It’s OK.”

Even though everything was OK this time, there may be a time that someone does really need help. The responsibility falls on all of us to be aware of the situations around us and to be proactive, asking even a total stranger… “Are you OK?”

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Daily Prompt Writing: The Nomadic Life

From the Daily Prompt: Rolling Stone

If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?”

This has always been a bit of a dream of mine, to live just to live, to enjoy experiences in life that aren’t possible within the constraints of a lease, a day job, shared custody and other limiting factors.  For a 40 year old who treasures new sights and experiences, meeting different people, photographing different areas and being immersed in different cultures, it must be said that I have gotten very few opportunities in life to do any of this.  The extent of my travels has been through the Carolinas, The Bahamas and Mexico.  All instances were limited by time and money and only left me wanting more.  To live as a nomad would still require some sort of stability – ironic, I know.  This means I would not want to live as a beggar but rather be able to earn a little money no matter where I went in order to remain self-sufficient (and fed!).  More than likely, I would take on some kind of art or craft and sell my talents at various events and festivals across the country, throughout the year. Part of those crafts could be hand-penned original inspirational poetry on parchment, ready to frame in someone’s study or bedroom.  Ideally, I would have a small RV in which I could keep my scant belongings and a bicycle to use for travel throughout the area of the moment.  I would of course need to remain tech savvy – Internet access would be vital as it is to nearly everyone today.  I would likely gather information on upcoming events and places to go from the web in order to keep short-term plans in order.  This would allow me to remain a wanderlust but one who would not be caught off guard by not having a place to park, sleep or sell crafts.  I wouldn’t say that there would be no “home base.”  I would have my RV – wherever it took me would be home.  The whole of the continental USA would be my home!  The beautiful thing about the Internet is that it brings people together no matter where they are, so losing touch with family and friends would not be an issue.  It would be a simple life, free of undue clutter, free of the feeling of being cooped up and held captive by societal constraints.  As a Sagittarius, this sort of nomadic life would be what my soul has always craved.  I am determined to one day see this to fruition.

Scenes from Saturday Morning

Some camera-phone video taken at the Saturday morning market, downtown Fort Pierce, FL.

A Little Appreciation

How many times have you found yourself saying, “I tried to help them…” in instances where someone you were trying to assist put forth no effort to help themselves?

“SK” seemed like a nice enough man.  Upper 40’s, divorced, and on disability after a nearly fatal motorcycle crash.  He’d moved to the area in an attempt to start his life over, get a change of scenery and get back on his feet.  When the disability money had run out, he secured a job as a salesman but wasn’t very good at the job.  He was computer illiterate, had short term memory problems, and unrealistic expectations of salary.  Within days of starting work, he began tuning out and lost all enthusiasm.

He shared his story with me, venting that he just wanted to get his life back after the divorce, the accident, the vagrancy and the long string of “bad luck” that had befallen him.  Shortly thereafter, he was thrown out of the motel he was living in for dealing drugs on the premises and had moved to another motel.  When he came to me asking for advice and help and telling me he only had $11.00 to his name and no place to go, it sounded as if he was going to be one of those men who just wanted someone to latch onto for support.

I know the type, I’ve ended up with them many times in the past but I thankfully learned from those mistakes and did not let my heart be affected by his attempts.  Instead, I gave him phone numbers and addresses of my landlord who has affordable apartments in the area and who would work with him, of the local outreach center who could provide food, clothing and other basic services, and to other places that could help him with his immediate needs.  I even gave him my personal card letting him know I was available if he needed someone to talk to or to help him find additional assistance.

Well, the day after he was evicted from his motel room, he also lost the job he’d just started.  At that time, I believe he also lost all hope and I felt very sorry for him.  That was until I helped clear out his work area and found that not only had he left behind all the valuable information I’d given him for shelter, food and clothing, even my card – he’d thrown the information in the trash.  Seeing that immediately changed my opinion of him and validated my gut instinct that this person did not want to do anything for himself.  The opportunities he was given received zero effort from him (including the job).

It disgusts me that there are so many good people in the world who try to help others less fortunate by giving them the tools they need to help themselves yet the people they’re trying to help end up completely unappreciative of the help they’re given.  I don’t know if it amounts to laziness, arrogance, selfishness, or all of the above, but these people who only seek to take what they can from others without any effort on their own part are just dirt in my opinion.  They’ve no appreciation for the time and energy others are willing to put into them and do not deserve any sort of welfare or assistance until they are willing to do something for themselves.

That’s my vent for the day.