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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Homelessness. . .A Fear

It may be irrational but I have a fear of eventually being homeless. This, in spite of the fact that I live alone in a rather large house on a lovely big piece of farm property. I do have a small mortgage (by today's standard) which so far I have been able to continue to pay. For some this would be luxurious living.

I live close to the line economically which is no secret to my family and friends. In spite of a fine education, I have not accumulated the resources that middle class people expect to have to live out their retirement without the fear of homelessness or poverty. I arrived in this postion as a result of a series of life choices of my own choosing, which I do not regret. I accept the judgment that I am in a situation economically of my own doing. I don't expect people to feel sorry for me. I am quite happy to live in a very simple way. I can afford my way of life for now but it would not take much to push me over the line.

A homeless man. But not a hopeless man. He has some essentials: a companion, a book, adequate clothes and it look like he just finished a fresh orange. He looks clear eyed and content, not beaten down by his circumstances.

I lived the latter half of my life thinking I would die around 60 years old. (perhaps becasue my mother died at 61 unexpectedly) To my embarassment I am still here and in reasonable health. Being as an occasional depressed person, at times, I have thought if I was not dead by this time from natural circumstances I would take matters into my own hands and escape life and relieve family and friends of the burden of worrying about me. As a result, I did little planning for a retirement. Money was for the living.

Part of the fear of homelessness is the prospect of being dependent upon others or having to ask for help. I could not bring myself to ask extended family in particular for any assistance. For me, they have made it clear, over the years, such a request would be an imposition. It would be demeaning to be dependent on the kindness of strangers. So my worry goes.

Canada has a modest social safety net, so being homeless does not mean you are without financial resources, as long as you have an address, just not enough to become the "not homeless". As a life long socialist this is a disappointment for me as I believed in the ideal of government supporting people "from the cradle to the grave." Even our left wing party gave up this plank in their platform many years ago.

Recently, I have been reading a blog by a homeless man, Tony. It is very interesting. It is actually written, with his permission, by his friend, Philip, a Harvard grad (sounds like me but I identify with Tony.) who took an interest in him. They are a kind of "odd couple" of friends that meet on Tony's terms.

It is interesting to look in on Tony's life.: his daily struggle and his ideas on the World. I have often thought a lot about strategies which one could use to survive homeless in the city or in the country. If I were homeless I would prefer to be homeless in the country, where I also have some survival skills.

Tony's blog is a dose of realism of life on the street life of a homeless person.

The blog is not without humour. Tony often ends his short entries with the phrase "if you know what I mean." At least he avoids the shorter form "eh!" which so many Canadians say. If enough people read his blog it may become fashionable if you know what I mean! It made me think of the other blog I enjoy by Margaret and Helen where the entries end with "I mean it. Really.", which is hard to avoid using at times.

I recommend to you both of the blogs I have mentioned.

For now, for me, life is good, but I bet the fear of homelessness will continue to visit me in the occasion restless night or depressed time of despair. I am commited to toughing life out.
"In mean it. Really, if you know what I mean!"


At 3:39 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

These are scary thoughts that probably have visited many of us from time to time. The recession certainly caused me to experience a few anxious moments, particularly since at this age I have no marketable skills.

At 8:23 p.m., Blogger Loretta said...

Maybe all of us that fight depression have these thoughts. I know I do! After the last few months I can see where it would be easy to become homeless. We are living week to week now. I hate it!! I do realize we are blessed more than many. Thank God we own our home.

At 12:00 a.m., Blogger lorraine said...

Funny that I have been thinking about this subject this very day. I am an R.N. in Northern California - so as long as I have reasonable health and my brain still functions - I can find some sort of a job. We have a discharge planner 80 years old and a Charge Nurse 71. The very thought of working that long makes me want to puke. I'm 62 and we baby boomers are all reaching this age at one time. Our resources are getting scarce. I only started working as a nurse at age 45 - in debt from raising 3 kids with no child support. Try to save. We all thought the world would come to an end before we got this old and as they preach global ecology to scare everyone we get beat into submission - but guess what? the world is still here and we who can have to work to keep it going for everyone else and ourselves. Oh well! another day at work tomorrow. You aren't alone in your fears and dreads - that may be of little comfort but, I mean it. Really. (Sorry so long but it was really just today I was thinking about it).

At 2:45 p.m., Blogger amelia said...

I think it's something we all fear. I know since we moved north money is extremely tight and from month to month we struggle. Our dogs cost a fortune with vet bills and they take the little bit we may have had left. I'm thankful that we manage but the debt keeps growing with no way to pay it, short of a miracle. Where we live, as you know, I'm unemployable.

I always worry about our dogs, what will happen if we can't take care of them but I don't want to think about losing them.

It's one thing to be homeless alone but to be homeless with pets is something that scares the s**t out of me.

Lets hope we all keep going Philip and no one becomes homeless!!! :))

At 3:13 p.m., Blogger Donna Henderson said...

You are a very interesting man. I can see that you think a lot. My late husband used to tell me, "You think too much." But he was not one of us. BTW, I too am committed to toughing life out. Playing your last card is very important I believe. Figuring out which to hold is the trick. I try to have a fistfull of big hearts and little puppy feet. I don't think you're collecting diamonds. Me neither. I laid down all mine early in the game. Mostly all's I've been getting lately is spades, though. It seems to go in cycles, don't it? Let's carry on, then, shall we?

At 10:23 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

Philip: This is a heart-rending post. I, too, wonder how it will be when I can no longer take care of myself. I have just enough social security to make the monthly bills and I keep honing back ... less is more in my book. I have found great consolation in the teachings of the AA program but am happy that you have not gone that route that would get you to AA.
I have a friend named Bill who I am encouraging to read your blog. I think you have a lot in common and hope he will start to blog & will comment on yours. I will definitely look into the blogs that you recommend.
Hugs from afar....Ginnie

At 3:35 p.m., Blogger KGMom said...

I think you have touched a place in all our hearts about which we wonder. As we age, we realize we have to face that which those who die young do not--old age. Old age can be golden, but for many many it is more leaden. Gray, hard, depressing.
The more connections we have, the better--whether that is friends or family. Or even blogging.
We are your friends, out here--though knowing that doesn't pay the mortgage.
I have read about people who pool their resources as they age--go together, get a place to live, share expenses and tasks. Sounds like a commune for aging--not a bad idea.

At 12:12 a.m., Blogger Charles Hoag said...

Hi Philip, when I read this post of yours I couldn't help but continuously identify with each word that I kept reading. I'm 61 and for years have had similar thoughts nagging at me. While its true that I made the life decisions that brought me to this same brink, I also did strive diligently along the way to surpass this "living near the edge" of being homeless. But, alas, to no avail. The solution that I opted for was to move here to Southeast Asia where what paltry savings I have goes much further. Plus, it's a wonderful, youth-giving adventure to learn a new culture and language, share ideas, learn how to grow bananas and coffee as well as to explore life without winter's short days and cold grip.

During my lifetime, I too have seen that the social network of North American culture is diminishing. Here in this part of the world I experience the age-old familial social networks, where the elders are revered, assistance from loved ones is seen as common-place and not as an imposition; often times this is the ONLY social security available. People entering their older years here are not subjected to as many of the depression-inducing social stigmas that I experienced in my homeland. There's plenty here in a poor, developing-world nation to become frustrated about, but when I weighed out my options, this is the choice that I'm happy that I made.


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