September 3, 2011

Never Again (Day 43 - September 3, 2011)

I will never ever . . . EVER . . . look at a street person sleeping on a park bench in the middle of the day and think that they are lazy.  Well . . . never ever again.

It's way too easy to fall prey to the traps set before us by stereotypes and our own prejudices, and see "a bum" lying in the park on a nice day while thinking he is "lazy" (or worse).  The truth is we have absolutely no idea what is going on for him or her lying there on the hard ground or on the even harder, but likely drier, bench.  In fact, if we are to apply Occam's razor (the law of parsimony . . . which states the simplest of two or more competing explanations is preferable), then the only thing we should rightly conclude from someone sleeping in the park is that they are tired.

But, of course, as curious creatures that like some drama we don't usually want to stop at that conclusion.  We want to know . . . "WHY?"  We make assumptions about street homeless not having jobs (which is not true as quite a number do) and not having anything to do (which is also not true, unless you don't count surviving) . . . and we want to create for ourselves a story that explains why that person is sleeping in a public place in the middle of the day.  Alright, twist my arm . . . I'll give you some suggestions as to what might actually be going on for the "sleepy head" in question.

Last night was cold!  It was the coldest yet of my 42 nights in the tent as the mercury dipped to -2C.  For the most part I slept alright, I guess, although my sleep was extremely fitful.  I awoke every time part of me squirmed out of the warm little cocoon I created, which was way too often.  So I didn't have the best sleep ever, but add to that it had been cooler weather much of the previous 3 days.  When it's cold, the body uses more energy simply trying to keep warm.  As a result of the less than ideal sleep and days of my body using more energy, by about noon today I felt completely wiped.  I needed a nap and, after a chilly night, I gravitated to a bench in the sun and took a snooze.

I have to confess, it wasn't the first time I've ever taken a midday nap on that bench.  A few years back I was in a deep clinical depression.  One day, I actually had the energy to get out of the house, but by the time I reached that bench my energy had waned.  I sat down, and mired in my own anguish, I soon found myself lying down and sleeping.  In other words, I was so depressed that I only had enough energy to take a nap on a park bench.  Sounds weird unless you've been depressed, but if you know of what I speak then it's completely understandable.

So back to our "sleepy head" in the park.  Sure, it may be that the person is sleeping off whatever binge he or she was on the night before.  However, isn't it at least equally plausible that the person is just plain tired and needing a little snooze in the warmth of the sun because . . . it is draining being outside all the time . . . it was a cold fitful night with little sleep . . . or the person is homeless, but employed, and worked a night shift cleaning toilets or stocking shelves?  Or perhaps, as is the case with many people on the street, the person is depressed (or suffering from another mental illness) and doesn't have energy enough to do anything but have a sleep.   As for me, I'm going to give the person the benefit of the doubt from now on and not assume something that is not very nice . . . and likely wrong.

That Poverty Guy (Sean Krausert)
Day 43 - Enjoying the Sun / 220 lbs

Weekly Update - As it is Saturday, I should give you my usual update.  With respect to my weight, I lost 3 lbs this week!  I'm now at 220 lbs and have dropped 13 lbs in the last 6 weeks.  I didn't change my habits at all from weeks past, but I think the colder weather caused my body to burn more calories than usual.  And, regarding my finances, I made a few little purchases but was also the benefactor to another small donation from that little old lady . . . and so I have $20 plus some change.  I actually have an idea about what I am going to need it for, but more about that on Monday.

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

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  1. You are now my weight ... trouble is that I carry it in a 4 inch smaller frame :)
    I was 'sleeping' on a bench recently while waiting for a Baseball game to begin. Out of the corner of my eye I could see almost EVERYONE 'looking' at me as they walked by. Were they thinking "That Bum", probably were. In fact I was thanking God for the time and sun to relax in.... interesting!

  2. wow..thanks for updating us on the need for the bench sleeptime.....i will think differently now!!!!!

  3. My husband John has always given us a very comfortable life and in 1998 he retired. He was so happy to not have to look "his best" that he once in a while didn't shave for a couple of days. I had an appt on the edge of the poorest part of Edmonton...John drove me. He chose to stay outside and wait for me just to enjoy the sunny day. He noticed that when women past him, they grabbed onto their purses a little tighter. A woman and her child took one look at him and crossed the street in a hurry. He couldn't believe how his unruly appearance automatically sterotyped him into a very unfavorable place on the social ladder.

  4. Sean D. Krausert, EditorSeptember 5, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Thanks for all of your comments . . . Aren't perceptions amazing! They actually transform reality. Whatever a situation is we can transform it into something it is not simply by what we bring to the situation.