Burning Bridges



( Blank Maps )

“A habit can't be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time” - Mark Twain
“It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered.” - Thomas Jefferson

It has been two weeks and four days since I walked down here from Chris' house. Now, my nails are dirty and skin so tan there is no risk of it burning. My hair still looks kind of clean and smooth, but it's greasy too. My body and mind are adapting to the changes, differentiating the things I knew before and how I thought things would be for me the reality of what life is like out here.

I have gotten to sit with people with stories different than mine; drug addicts, amputees, runaways, alcoholics, and anyone else who will hang out with me. I've been rained on, spit on, and kicked while sleeping. I've experienced a darker side of humanity than I thought existed. After facing life out here first hand, I know no one who isn't homeless has any real idea of what their life is like. I changed a couple things in life - where I slept and if I worked, but everything around me has changed in a much more drastic way.

I still eat, but now my diet consists of a bare minimum of calories coming mainly from bologna sandwiches, and rarely a piece of fruit or loaf of old bakers bread. I'm always hungry, making it practice to give my extra food to the hungrier, less able minded and bodied men and women. When I see a mother with children I give them all I have. I've already noticed some weight loss. My muscles are stretching against my skin with less and less of the little fat I had in between.

Drinking a lot of water helps to feel at least a little full. Last night when I was laying down to go to bed I could hear water sloshing around in my empty stomach. Sometimes the hunger goes away, other times it does not and keeps me up late into the night. I fnd curling up with my legs bent up towards my chest helps.

I keep reminding myself that this won't last forever; the calorie deficit is temporary and my needs in the long run will be met. If not comfortable, I am still very healthy and physically capable. I'm not only not going to die of starvation, I've found enough energy to go running, which is something I didn't really think I'd do while out here, but it helps clear my mind.

The social aspects are what is harder to go without. No one looks me in the eye. I have not been called by name in a while. I don't like being laughed at, made fun of, spit on, or yelled at.

Whether necessity or luxury, I'm fnding it is possible to go without a lot of things. Life is much easier with nice things and I will get back to them eventually, but have found my body and mind are much more capable to make it through hard times and discomfort than I have given often given them credit for. This conscious going below my comfort and actual physical necessities for a time is showing me the difference between my immediate needs and wants. The idea of survival and health allows me to let go of the perception of what I used to believe I could not live without; a bed, a fridge, money, and drinks other than water. All I need is calories and water, a spot to lay, and oxygen to breathe. It would have been easy to say “there's no way I could do this” a short time ago, but this realistically means “I really have a strong preference not to do that”, and should never serve as an indicator of what it actually possible.

I think this sympathy comes from feeling an intimacy with the idea of being subject to a certain life, yet turning out a different way. Feeling incapable comes from growing up, feeling like my life had already been spelled into not only terrible, but boring words. I did not have very good examples to follow and as much as I wanted a good life, it was hard to really hope and believe in anything good actually happening.

My frustrations with this idea came to a head during a class in college. We learned statistics about kids growing up in heavily broken and abusive homes. The numbers showed things like how I was x times more likely to go to prison, y more times more likely to hit my kids, and z times more likely to get divorced. My professors didn't know they were describing my past while laying out the future I feared most in pie charts of x, y, and z against the “regular” population. 'No' I wanted to shout 'Not me! Not any of us!' but I know, yes, statistically it will be some of us and in some circumstances, most of us.

The good thing is we followed by studying resiliency - how a person beats the odds. No matter where a person comes from they will have to be resilient in some way. Whatever good is in a person requires some proactivity. Not wanting to turn out a certain way versus actually not turning out a certain way requires more than disliking how things have been.

Statistics only show what has been and not what is to come, but changes do need to be made to bring the good and eliminate the bad. I want to take what I feel I should do in my life seriously without taking myself so seriously, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. It feels like I need to take myself seriously because I do believe it's possible to change a trend, beat some odds, and shift the percentages to be more favorable for the good, hopefully changing them for future generations.

I'm fnding my personal demons are only a fraction of what there is to battle. There are many things which might come into my life which I never wanted. There are bridges I have built or have had built for me which go places I don't want to go. I see them; they lead to anger, resentment, and a frustrated surrender to “the odds”. Taking a stand is simply not going to be good enough if I'm standing on the same bridge, heading toward the same place I have always been going. Burning down the bridges I was never supposed to have in the frst place is necessary. The adversity it takes to burn these bridges down grants a heart of perseverance and an advantage over people who might not know such personal pain. Wounds hurt, but if given the chance they will provide a frst-hand education in healing.

This requires grace, however it must be a smart grace which does not excuse the mistakes made completely, but is willing to constantly revisit and revise wrongs in an effort to right them, or at least make steps of improvement.

There are certain issues to burn bridges with which seem most important out here.

Pride - thinking I'm better than anyone who appears not to be doing as well as me or trying as hard as me, is one bridge I need to burn. I need to realize I'm a product of a million circumstances as much as I'm a product of a million choices. Any good thing I have should humble me and never serve as a pedestal to stand proudly upon. Developing an appreciation of a fortunate life rather than an entitlement to it's important.

Anger – letting go of what I feel towards others who are different than I am. Knowing how others treat me may not represent who they are. Not letting someone else's treatment of me defne my outlook on the world. Still, getting angry at how people are being treated without getting angry at who is doing it. Inequality – rationalizing any thought which lets another person suffer, takes away their rights or dignity as a human, or allows me to favor myself or someone else over them.

Limits – Getting rid of the idea that things I prefer not to do, or situations I prefer not to be in, are not actual limits of what I can't do or where I can't go. Ask what is keeping me from something rather than denying it ever could be.

Bridges are the adventures you let yourself go on. They will show who was loved in your life as well as how they were loved, and how your life impacted them. Burning the bridges to my past wrongs creates the transitions needed to grow and adapt. I would like my bridges to lead to good land. In terms of personal growth, it is absolutely necessary to look frst personally, and then globally, to fnd the good bad examples; the models of what I would like not to happen.

I hope my normal can change. I hope things don't have to be the same they always have been. I'll need to remind myself about pride, anger, limits, and my disdain for inequality a lot in life. Event though I'm trying, I know I won't do any of it perfectly. I just believe there is love out there for me, for all of us. Whether it be by a good or bad chance, a fair shot or an unfair one, a chance is still a chance and a shot is still a shot. A lot of this depends on not only what I'm willing build, but what I'm willing to tear down.

I think this might help with how I feel about statistics.