I recently had the enormous privilege of attending a meeting of HELLO (Homeless Experts Living Life’s Obstacles) in Chicago. That’s right: youth. These were teenagers and young adults living on the streets of the very city I have lived in for over a decade. I admit I was totally nervous and way outside my comfort zone. Even though I like to think of myself as a compassionate person who values service above all else, I’m struggling to imagine my life without my home.
These young people were astounding. As I looked around at their faces there was nothing that distinguished them from me. I could have passed them by on the street without a second thought, and yet each and every one of them had a lifetime of painful memories and more than a lifetime supply of courage.
How do you strike up a conversation with someone so incredible? What could I say? "Hey, how are you? What’ve you been up to lately?"
They might have said, “surviving”.
Survival is not something I ever have to think about, especially when it comes to shelter. What would it be like to be on your feet all day with no idea where you will be able to sleep or rest in safety or cmofort? What would it be like if you could only keep what you could carry? One young man put it perfectly: “When you’re on the street, it’s like the whole city, the whole world is your living room.”
I can’t help but reconsider a lot of the beliefs about home and space and clutter and organization that I’ve spent a lot of time developing and teaching to others. At the end of the day maybe it’s best to express some sincere heartfelt gratitude for the comfort and security of having a home, a place to rest, to keep our pettiest possessions. As I listened to the youth share their experiences, I saw signs that said, “Housing is a human right.” But it’s also an incredible luxury. Let’s treat it that way.
*The best way to learn more from these young people while offering them the support they deserve is by purchasing a book of their poetry here:
I just bought my copy, and I invite you to cut yourself some slack this week: if disorganization is causing you stress, give thanks for all that you have, and read this book instead of worrying.
Info@idealspaceconsulting.com - Chicago, IL 60626 - 877.557.1717
© 2010-2014 Ideal Space Consulting