Authors, Entrepreneurs, and other Creative Individuals Pursuing Their Dreams
Although my ethnicity is largely Germanic, I don’t speak the language. I may know a dozen words in German, if that. Not that many people who aren’t German even speak it, as far as I know. Perhaps it’s because German sounds so guttural when spoken. The words resonate as harsh, crude, even unfriendly to me.
Caught it on an episode of NCIS when one character challenged another, saying he didn’t even know what it meant. Since I didn’t know either, I looked it up. A doppelganger is a ghostly double of a living person, especially one that haunts its flesh counterpart. Isn’t that also a synonym for an ex-wife?
More realistically, when I think back, I was a doppelganger over a 4⅓ year period, from 2005-2009, when I was homeless. I became a ghostly double of the man I’d been for 55 years. I haunted the real me, to the point that persona was dwarfed and totally hidden by the time I made it back to being human again.
It also made me think. I picture guys I once knew who were homeless, guys I don’t see any longer ’cause I don’t hang out where they are now. I picture guys I still know who live that way, people I still see on occasion. The difference is, with that idea in mind, I see them a bit differently now. I picked up on something I hadn’t seen before.
Try this. The next time you see a homeless person, man or woman, take a look as you draw near each other. In almost every case that person’s face will be as sad as anyone’s you’ve ever seen. It’s almost unbelievable to think I wore that look, unknowingly, for so long and didn’t even realize it. Homelessness is ongoing sadness. A sense of gloom that never goes away unless and until that person gets released, as I did.
Living that way creates a mood one can’t just slough off. It’s an adopted attitude. No one can be around so many people who think he’s a piece of garbage without eventually taking on the same attitude. Trust me on this one, please. It’s not a mood lightener to know someone else despises you. Honestly, even when I was divorcing all those ex-wives, (I carried the lead all four times), that part was a large dose of unhappiness for me. Just being around someone who’s seething with animosity because of you is terribly demoralizing. It’s made worse when a man is forced to realize some of the motivation for the other person feeling that way is accurate.
There’s a carryover when you’re homeless. None of us do it on purpose and all of us would change it immediately if we were able. I’ll always be a homeless guy as long as there are legal Americans without a roof, a bed and food to eat. Being homeless is a lot like having a birth defect. It’s wholly unwanted and, in almost all cases, there’s nothing one can do about it. The lifestyle becomes a “suck it up” moment, although it often lasts for the balance of a man’s days.
Is it any wonder someone living that way seems to carry the weight of the world on his often underfed shoulders? So, as I asked you, try it. Take a good, close look the next time you see a homeless guy and ask yourself if you’ve ever seen anyone who looks sadder or unhappier?
I’m just sayin’.
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