Perspective is essential when working with individuals who have lived very different lives than you have lived. It’s also important to remember that not everyone has had access to the same opportunities as you.
For instance, one of our community members here at the hospitality house accompanied me on some errands I ran for Love Wins. I asked if I could pick his brain about keeping life in perspective, not letting the little things get to you, and appreciating life in its entirety.
He told me stories about his youth, traveling across Europe, love, loss, his struggle to find dependable housing, and his spirituality. I took something very valuable away from this conversation that he briefly mentioned. “It is okay to reboot,” he said. “It’s okay to unlearn what you have been told and reteach yourself your own truth, and to go and discover what spirituality means to you.”
Lately, I have been torn between friends, struggling to find a comfortable living situation with my current roommates, overwhelmed with school and responsibility, and just being the age that I am and all the confusion that accompanies being 19 years old. I was grateful for the reminder from my friend that everything I’m going through is a learning experience. It is the conversations that I have with community members that helps put things into perspective.
Most of the time, it is the grace with which they approach any situation that is not in their favor that touches me. It’s not the lack of choice they face, but the choice to face the small inconveniences of each day living on the streets without anger that I appreciate.
As my friend from the community and I drove around Raleigh, where he and I have both lived our entire lives, we pointed to different houses, parks, sidewalks, and trees where we both had memories attached to the same places.
He is a 50 year old African American male with an unreliable housing situation. The intersection of our lives humbles me, and shows me that there is always something bigger than whatever I am struggling through. This is what I cherish the most about this job. I’m immersed in what once was just a concept. In this intersection of our lives, there are much more commonalities than there are differences.