Since becoming un-homed there have been many moments when I have to remind myself why this has come about. As mentioned there are several things that come together in just the wrong way that propel someone into this life. Naturally there may be certain factors that strongly precipitate homeless status more than others, such as drug addiction and mental health issues.
But for many of us, it’s just that combo of moderate to severe disaster combined with a cascade of things going wrong.

Choices and best guesses get made and there you have it: you’re un-homed. Add in one functional soccer-mom van, one empty bank account, a hefty dose of uncertainty, and you have a rhythm that now includes parks, public showers, and lots of Safeway food.

But these are all things I’ve written about, so nothing too new there. But that’s kind of the point here: this is not a glamorous life going on here. It is monotonous. It is tedious at times. It doesn’t exactly make anyone feel good; At least not me, even though I’m pretty accepting of things.

Many of us out here seem to have lost out to the system of paying taxes and working to build our versions of the American dream. You know the one: It’s that dream of owning your own home, having a family, and relying on some guaranteed retirement package that allows cruises and trips to Vegas while maintaining health insurance coverage just in case something bad happens.

When you lose to the system it doesn’t always feel so simple to buy back into that same system. But what does the general population do? It expects us to do just that and trust them in the process. However, remember that I contend that deep down many homeless are heart-broken. So to ask, or expect, some homeless person to simply “get back to work” within the system is kind of like telling them to go back to the person who broke their heart. It’s rubbing salt in a wound and why would anyone do that? Something doesn’t add up.

Of course there are many types of homeless and un-homed. The reasons widely vary, as do the efforts to shift or improve things, so there’s no point in recounting the variations at the moment. I meet people who do the best they can with their circumstances, while others seem lost. Some are not too bright, while others seem perfectly normal and capable. But so far the common thread is that I have yet to meet someone who planned on being un-homed or homeless.

Maybe someone is out there who had grand designs to live a life of drifting about and eating out of garbage cans, but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime it’s business as usual.

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About the Author

  • Joe Bright
    Joe Bright is a graduate of Iolani School and went on to study art at The Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, and later Chinese medicine at The American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. Joe currently runs a small acupuncture clinic, Kama’aina Acupuncture in Kapahulu as the first dedicated low-cost “community acupuncture” clinic in Honolulu. Joe has a varied background that has included working as a bicycle mechanic, freelance artist, teaching calligraphy and Tai Chi, a nanny, and even a CEO of a small entrepreneurial company. He continues to create art, even having work recently appear at the Honolulu Academy of Arts as well the Bishop Museum. He also continues with entrepreneurial projects when possible and serves on the Board of Directors for a local Buddhist meditation organization, Vipassana Hawai’i.