THE MAN IN THE TENT

‘Excuse me, are you the man in the tent?’ shouted over to me as Hari and I were on our way to catch the little bus back from Brodick to Lamlash on the Isle of Arran

‘Yep, that’s me!’ I jovially replied, wondering what on earth she was going to ask me.

‘Oh, I’ve got such admiration for you, staying that wee tent (wee – scottish meaning small!) with that big dug! (dug – scottish meaning dog).

‘I wasn’t quite sure how to reply, as no one has ever admired me just because I’m currently sleeping in a tent with a 41kg labrador!

‘Why are you doing it?’ she enquired, it must be horrible in the rain’.

‘Oh it’s not too bad, you get used to it’ I casually replied, hoping she wasn’t going to delve into a round of deeper questioning, but she did.

She asked the question everyone does, that for someone like me is impossible to answer in a fleeting tete a tete with a stranger!

‘Where do you live normally?’

And with a flash, rather than going into some complex explanation, I replied, ‘Oh I run an offshore sailing team , based in Lagos in Portugal’.

‘Oh how wonderful…my husband and I love the algarve, especially Vilamoura, we have …”

Fortunately my bus came and I made my excuses and waved goodbye, but it did get me thinking about the nature of home, and its counter, homelessness…more of which can be read on the Home and Homelessness project home page.

In a nutshell, people who ask questions generally are only looking for standard answers, they don’t want your life story! Hence it is easier to either lie, or create a stanard response.

How would the lady have felt if I said, actually, I’m homeless, I have nowhere else to go?

She probably would have maybe a. felt sorry for me for a second , or thought “ugh a homeless man, I must get away from him unless he asks me if I’ve got any spare change!

The idea that someone would choose to be, and we will stop using the word homeless, without a place with four walls and a roof, is strange to 99.9 percent of the population of the world.

Having your own permanent home in a fixed location is seen as an essential part of being human, where as being homeless is seen as something very negative.

Wordsto descibe someone who is homeless such as ..

displaced, dispossesed, houseless,derelict,desolate,down and out, itinerant, vagrant, bum, vagabond, unsettled, wanderer…

let’s just say that not having your own 4 walls, even if it’s in a run down block of flats in the wrong part of town, is seen as a very negative thing.

You see, the pwers that be, and everyone else wants conformity, and order, and homeless people do not fit into this mould.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that a heavily addicted person, or someone with mental, and emotional complexities, sleeping in a cardboard box in a doorway begging for change is in any way positive, and that will be addressed in my Home & Homelesness project

What we are talking about here is a state of mind.let me give you an example…

We have 2 men, both ‘homeless’. One day an interviewer from the esteemed BBC comes to talk to them. She asks the first man, how he came to be homeless.

‘Well, it all started when my wife left me, and took the kids, I started drinking heavily to kind of block it all out. Pretty soon, Iwas sneaking vodka into work until my boss found out nd I got fired…then I couln´t pay the mortgage anymore, and my wife had maxed out all the credit cards, and suddenly I was out on my ear!

Itś not fair, the government should do something to help me, no one should have to live like this, everyone derves their own home, Iñve got nothing, no house, no job, no family…

The interviewer turns to the second man and asks the same question, to which replies.

‘I do not consider myself homeless.’

‘But you havent got a house!’ replied the interviewer.

He continues…

‘I believe that homelessness is a state of mind. I choose to live how I am living. I am not doing it because of ‘circumstance’. I believe that being free of the bond of 4 walls, allows me to develop resilience, and flexibility in what I choose to do, and where I choose to go. Who says that everyone needs their own homes? To me, the idea that everyone stays in fixed locations is one reason why we are not evolving. And having a house is fine when everything is going well, but you only have to look at this poor fellow to see that due to the sense of loss of ‘everything’ in his life, he now feels desperate, and hard done by.. If only he could shift his perspective he would see that he is in fact still alive, and able to create any life he chooses.’

Both the interviewer and Homeless Man one agree that the second man is delusional and probably needs psychiatric help.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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