Friday, February 27, 2015

What the f**k was I thinking.

  How does being broke and homeless sound to you? Not good? After I returned from walking across America that is exactly what happened to me. When I boarded a plane in Portland, ME on November 2, 2013 I hadn't the slightest notion that I would end up spending my nights outdoors or that I would find myself standing in line to get a free sack lunch with the homeless.

I had envisioned my life going much differently upon my return to Los Angeles. My plan was to spend two months writing a book about the experiences I had while walking across America, find an inexpensive place to live, and get a job so that I could replace all the music equipment I sold to fund my walk and get back to work writing music.

Job interviews were few and far between. Whenever I would go to an interview the person conducting the interview was more concerned with the possibility of me leaving the job in a few months to walk across the country than they were about my skills and qualifications. The fact that I spent 17 months walking across the country to raise money for pediatric cancer was not working in my favor. More than anything else it seemed to be working against me.

Since nothing was going according to plan I needed to figure out a way to make the best out of my situation. If I wasn't sleeping or sending off resumes I was writing and learning everything I could about book publishing. Everything I did was centered around the book. To accomplish what I had in mind I was going to have to make sacrifices.

I had always known that I wanted to donate the earnings from the book to various charitable organizations and schools. I felt like there was no limit to the amount of good I could do.

Writing is a challenge for me and at times the inability to translate my emotions into words frustrated me so much that I would feel discouraged and not want to write, but my passion for wanting to help others was a major driving force and it kept me going; kept me from throwing my hands in the air giving up.

In October 2014 I decided it would a good idea to spend the winter in Sacramento so that I could finish the book, work with the artist who was going to be designing the cover, create a marketing campaign, and start finding a new editor, because the person who had generously offered to edit part of my book a few months back changed their mind. Everything seemed like it was going great then on the day I arrived in northern California the person who was going to allow me to stay at their home contacted me to let me know that something had come up and that they wouldn't be able to offer me a place to stay. To make matters worse the artist who was going to design the cover told me that he wouldn't be able to create what I had in mind because it was too difficult for him. In an instant everything fell apart. I finally reached a point where I was burnt out. I was fed up with all the people who never followed through on their commitments; I was tired of sacrificing my time and giving up things in my personal life that were important just so that I could finish writing a book I never wanted to write in the first place.

  For nearly two months I did absolutely no writing at all. I still planned on finishing my book –  I did promise a WWII veteran in Florida that I would – but I needed motivation. One afternoon while searching for uplifting news stories on Twitter I came across a video of people reacting to hearing sound for the first time in their life. The video brought me to tears. Seeing the overwhelming joy that the people in the video felt reminded me why doing positive things that make a difference in a person's life is important to me. All the challenges and frustrations I had experienced over the past year now meant nothing. They were minor inconveniences compared to what other people have to go through. It was time to leave the pity party I had thrown myself. If I had to carry my belongings from place to place – not having anywhere to call home; be dirt poor; and have to wait to go back to earning a living doing music for another year, knowing that I was successful in my mission to help people with this book it will be worth it because being able to witness the happiness that the people feel in the video clip below is all the reward I need.

Please take a moment to watch the video and try to think about what it must feel like to know that you were able to give these people the gift of hearing and how much it means to them.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Count your blessings.

Earlier on Twitter I had said that I was going to blog about saying goodbye to people I had met on the road,then I came across this video of people hearing sound for the first time in their lives. I was moved by this video and about a minute into it I started to cry. There are numerous things that we take for granted and sometimes it takes a video like this one to remind us of how fortunate we are to have the things we have. Watch as these people are overcome with happiness.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A little goes a long way.

  There were trust fund kids, vagabonds, military veterans, elderly, mentally disabled, ex-convicts, and addicts. What these people all had in common was homelessness – some by choice and others because they had a stroke of bad luck. During Christmas I sat and watched the homeless people of West Los Angeles line up behind a moving truck. As back door of the moving truck went up I could see an enormous pile of large black duffle bags. The women formed a line on one side of the truck and the men on the other. An elderly woman stood nearby, emptying the contents of the bag onto the sidewalk. It appeared that each bag contained food, hygiene, products, first-aid supplies, and an assortment of other items one might need while living on the streets.

  The woman who stood nearby approached one of the good samaritans who was handing out the bags and as she was doing this she started to thank them but before she could get the words out she burst into tears. In the duffle bag the homeless woman found an emergency blanket. As the elderly homeless choked out the words, "This is the best Christmas I've had in a long time." the good samaritan put her arms around her. It was a touching moment. To think that something so simple as an emergency blanket, which costs only a few dollars, could such a difference in a person's life.

  All too often we forget the smallest gesture can make a world of difference in a person's life. At times I have to remind myself that something as simple as asking someone how they're doing can brighten one's day.