July 26, 2011

Splat! (Day 4 - July 26, 2011)

Poor me?
Life is weird.  Sometimes you're an 18-wheeler roaring down the highway of life, and at other times you're the bug splashed all over the windshield.  Today I ventured momentarily towards the latter.

Now I want to be perfectly clear . . . THIS IS IMPORTANT  
(. . . did that grab your attention?) . . . this project is absolutely not about me doing things to get anyone's pity.  On the contrary, That Poverty Project is about building greater understanding and empathy for those who are way, way, way worse off than anything that I am doing.  I see my role as being akin to that of a bridge . . . betwixt and between for the purpose of connecting.

However, I'd be lying to you, and doing you a disservice, if I didn't let you know that I've been having waves of self-pity while my self-esteem has been taking some hits.  (That's right . . . start the violins playing, Maestro.)  First, after only a few days of doing this, I'm REALLY missing some things . . . TV . . . my warm bed . . . watching a movie with my family . . . and did I mention TV?   Second, I find myself feeling very much a second class citizen . . . not having the opportunity to drive myself anywhere . . . looking a little grubby . . . not having any money which then prevents me from doing what others are doing . . . and people calling me (mostly in jest) "bum" or "crazy".  I expect that I will get used to it, but for now I must recognize the feelings that come when you start to be "without", explore them, share them, and remind myself of the billions of people who have it far worse than I do and for whom I am doing this project.

Before you run to get me a tissue or reach out an gently pat the computer screen to console me, please know that I am fine.  However, it really makes me think of how those without resources must feel when they interact with a society within which they cannot truly participate.  It's like being the last one picked for the team, and then having nobody pass you the ball when the game is on.  Whereas I can fall back on the fact that this project is temporary, and I know that I have a lot going for me . . . those who are really in the grips of poverty can easily get chewed up and spit out.  Or splattered like a bug on a windshield.

My main learning for today is how people can get brought down by the environment in which they find themselves.  And, if they do not have the tools or wherewithal to pull themselves out of the muck, they could easily drown in their own self-pity.  Poverty can be, and is for many, a self perpetuating vicious cycle.  So while some people need a little bit of a hand up, they also need to be reminded that they are precious, unique, and valued.  Loved.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt terrible about yourself and couldn't see how it would ever end, and then someone's touch or kind word was like a light that vanquished the darkness?  If so, I would love to hear from you about it.

Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.


  1. Hi Sean,

    i´m glad i found your blog! What you are doing is simply great!!! I love this lifestyle you do, because i simply decided samewise earlyer this year! Let me explain:

    I'm a German Guy (so sorry if my english is not always perfect), i do also have a university degrée and could go around now and grab all kinds of options that zivilisation offers... instead I started living in a tent, just like you and I'm in it since the 18th of May 2011 and it get's greater every day! So I know the problems of washing one's clothes, wondering where to get food, finding the best way to keep me warm,etc... and yet winter hasn't come still, so the real big challanges are still to come! But I welcome them!!! Thats the point!
    Exactly like your "credo" I'm not doing this, for getting anyones pitty at all, I'm trying to show, that this can be a great lifestyle, once learned. I'm trying to get some bugs by perfoming some kind of Streetart that I learned at my university...but this is still to come yet, and i'm working on my performance right now.
    So dear Sean, there is so much more that I could tell you and that I'd like to ask you as well,...but for now let me close with the following:

    My projects name is called "Kreativwandern" in English: "Creativwandering" and im blogging about it on:


    Unfortunately for you this blog is entirely in German, but there are photos as well...so I think you'll get the idea quickly. I'm not blogging daily like you (respect for that!!!) but there can be up to 2 months or more between my posts. Nevertheless, this project has lots of paralles to yours, but simply takes place in another part of our beloved planet! Isn't this cool?
    Right now I'm in South France near Bordeaux, but i will be moving (wandering) on soon with all my stuff on a kind of "pullingtrail" (does this word exist in english, don't know...!?)...I'm simply doing this because I want to travel independantly without addiction to all those bloody Atomic, Oil, Gas & Coalindustries, etc...! Officially I'm born German but I do not at all identify myself as a German or any legal country of this planet beacause I sipmly don't agree with most of todays governments. I prefer calling me an "earthling" or something like that...independant of all that shit since the 18th of May 2011, where I'm trying to live in a kind of balanced way, (pretty much like you do) with mother nature in my tent. (Often it's a tuff thing to find an appropriated place, because some bloody european laws do not alow wildcamping)...

    So best luck to your project and I hope you'll be doing fine with everything you undertake...

    Jonathura (Jonathan)

  2. Hi Jonathura,

    Thanks for your note! While my intent is to raise awareness about the needs of those who do not choose to live in poverty, there is something admirable about having options and choosing to live simply. And, we certainly would share some of the same experiences. I wish you well in all of your endeavours . . . and stay warm! I hope that you will continue to follow this project, and let me stay in touch.

    Many blessings,
    Sean (aka That Poverty Guy)

  3. RE: Have you ever been in a situation where you felt terrible about yourself and couldn't see how it would ever end, and then someone's touch or kind word was like a light that vanquished the darkness? If so, I would love to hear from you about it.
    Short answer: Yes.
    Long answer: When I came to Canmore on my own in 2006 (from Ontario), I was suffering from chronic depression already two years. My stresses were manifold: looking for work, looking for a place to live, trying to function normally everyday, trying to find doctors to figure out the right meds which took another two years, trying to set up a new support system of friends & medical personnel from scratch (NOTE: I'm single, family is dispersed betw. Vancouver and Edmonton areas - family situation is complicated).

    Long story short: Depression has taken down my confidence, self-esteem, ability to function 100% normally at work causing several job losses over the years, brought me no feelings of joy or gladness, I could go on and on, but don't want to belabor the point. Being in the dark and finding that little pin point of light came from people on the internet: through Facebook but primarily through another website called Psych Central, where I connnected with others who were just as or even more debilitated than I. What a Godsend! I found encouragement, understanding, and relief at just being able to be me, as I was at the moment, a little broken but working on repair and healing which would take only God knew how long. No pressure.

    What I've learned:

    1) It's ok to be broken and needing time for healing. People and their judgements be damned -I do what I have to do and let the rest go, or I try to anyways. The letting go of who I was with all my former capabilities was the hardest. And also losing my "good place" in the world was hard. That is, the place where I was proud of myself and my place in the community.

    Businesses today are so money-oriented rather than people-oriented, so it's very difficult to be less than perfect in the world that is so demanding of perfection when one is battling uphill with difficult issues. Employees aren't given much of a chance and are tossed if they don't measure up; instead of talking to the person and trying to help them up, they are "gotten rid of". Well, that seems to have been my experience since moving here. I have improved greatly from my initial depression, but I'm still on the meds. My ability to control my reactions is definitely a plus now. But I don't feel like testing it in the "real world" just yet. Maybe in a year, when I'm a little stronger still :D

    That's all for now. Best wishes for your learning experience.

  4. Wow Claudia . . . I really appreciate your sharing! I can really empathize with you as I, too, have suffered from depression at various times throughout my adult life. Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, which has often been what has worn me down leading into the depressions. That said, I am pleased to say that after a lot of self work and some good counsel . . . I now have a lot of tools at my disposal and feel better psychologically now than I can ever remember.

    Something that lot of people don't realize is that many of the homeless on the streets also suffer from some form of mental illness. Sometimes the illness is the reason they are on the streets, and sometimes their situation has worn them out so much that they get sick. These are people who need a helping hand to get themselves back on their feet, and access to proper treatment for their condition.

    Re meds . . . I am still on them and expect to be so the rest of my life. For a long time I hated being on them, but then I realized something. Just like a diabetic needs insulin to control sugar levels in their body, my body needs the anti-depressants in order to maintain proper seratonin levels. As soon as I got over that hurdle, I felt a lot better about taking the meds.

    I certainly know the pain of trying to work when weighed down with depression (. . . heck, it's literally painful just trying to get out of bed when in the deepest black of the depression). And, it really doesn't help that there is such a stigma about mental illness . . . arising because people just don't understand that it is an illness and not the figment of someone's imagination. I encourage you to keep pushing yourself (in a kind and gentle way) towards good health, as I know the healing process is very much like crawling out of muck . . . somedays you feel stuck and others a little progress . . . but you have to keep on going. Don't let yourself see yourself as a victim, you're not. You are somebody who is healing from an illness, and you will get through it.

    Many blessings to you!