Yesterday, like almost all other days in my life, I drove through Dunkin Donuts to get my “fix”. Being roughly three degrees colder than a witch’s you-know-what, the line was long. Sitting outside the line, in the 14°F temperature was a young woman panhandling. My first thought, though I am loathe to admit it, was:
“Good grief, she has a brand new pack of cigarettes, and she’s still asking for money? Does she take me for a fool?” I shook my head “no” to her and rolled up my window from ordering.
Then I thought to myself, cigarettes or not, she is standing in 14° weather asking for coins. Who the hell am I to judge? I used to smoke, for one thing. I know that if I was homeless as a smoker, I’d have done a lot to get my hands on a pack of cigarettes. Because, damn, if you have no place to live, or no food to eat, you’re going to want that effing cigarette. Beyond that, I have a friend who works for the National Coalition for the Homeless, (donate here ) and she told me that something like 30-40% of homeless at any given time have some form of mental illness, with 25% of them meeting the guidelines for severe mental illness.
Also, my mother has been an emergency room nurse/director for as long as I can remember, and I’ve had more than one discussion with her about the “chronically homeless,” most of whom are mentally ill or disabled or both. Here I was, feeling all high and mighty over a pack of cigarettes.
FUCKING CIGARETTES! What the hell kind of fancy liberal schmuck am I if I can’t see past NEWPORTS?!?!? I did end up giving her something…I’m not going to say what. I don’t want a pack on the back, I need a smack on the back of the head. Here I am, in my warm car, with my well-fed children, on the way to my fancy liberal gym, getting ready to go to LA, and I was being an asshole.
Do you know what else I have access to that our nation’s less-fortunate have perilously little access to? Adderall. Ambien. Wellbutrin. Fancy liberal gyms and healthy food. DHA and EPA supplements. The ability to reach out to others via the internets who have similar mental health issues. I can control (for the most part) the effects of my MDD and GAD via these things. I can see a therapist. I can text or call or facetime my friends , or read theirblogs any time, day or night.
I mean, FUCK!!! I can just go read any number of posts via the Bloggess to know I AM NOT ALONE!!! Even (or especially) writers get the (deep,dark,hide in a hole) blues.
I have you scamps to vent to.
I have children that light up my life and fill my coffers with overwhelming love and pride.
I have a very handsome man who loves me beyond all reason or prudence.
I have friends who make me laugh even when I thought my throat was too wretched from crying.
Not everyone has that, and everyone should. (unless you don’t want kids, then you should have pets…anything but a creepy porcelain doll collection)
Be grateful for what you have, and be more grateful for what you have to give.