The homeless man and me.
I have always had a fascination with the homeless, the homeless and prostitutes. How did they get there? Did they choose this life? Are they happy? There are millions of questions I have for them. There is always an element that I want to save them... Then I think how ignorant Zoe, they may not need saving. They may be fine, probably happy. Every morning I go for a walk along the beach. It's a long walk, where I usually practice a lot of gratitude I make sure I smile at everyone passing by. It gets my mind right for the day.
On a few occasions I had noticed a skinny sun soaked man who looked homeless. He was so little and always busy reading or swimming. There was something about him that fascinated me. I really wanted to make a connection with him, for some irrational reason I wanted to be his friend.
I thought for many days how could I do this? I thought that he may eventually notice me if I could stand out, get in his sight. I thought over the next few walks I would become somehow memorable and then I could work up the courage to say something.
The day finally came when I said "Good morning" he was coming out of the water with drenched clothes in his hands (I assumed he was washing) he replied "Morning!" with such enthusiasm and love. I kept walking, looking back every few steps to see if maybe we could talk a little more. But he was busy with his wet clothes and I didn't want to push this new friendship that he knew nothing about yet.
So I kept thinking about him. Could I take him some food, water, gifts? What would he need? I didn't want to insult him. I knew he had a pretty good set up. So I thought back to all the things I had seen him do and he always seemed so engaged with his writing and reading. I didn't know what things he enjoyed reading so I bought him some note books and a pen. I also packed a back pack full of nuts, water, dark chocolate and crackers. Don't ask about the dark chocolate.. I just thought I could share one of my favourite blocks, homeless or not that shit's delicious!
So once my bag was packed, I hurried off for my walk. But this day I wasn't very focused on my gratitude, I was more obsessed with finding him. I was more than half way through my walk when I saw my wannabe friend behind a corner ( I would've missed him if I was to deep into my gratitude walk, so I was glad I was distracted by obsession). I said "Good morning" I knew it was a safe bet as we had already covered this before. He of course said it back.
I asked him "Can I please give you a gift?" He stopped strumming his guitar and asked my name. I told him. He said his was "Pierre".
"Now what do you have for me, Zoe?" he asked in his thick Italian accent. I loved him already.
"I have lots of things. I have water, nuts, chocolate?"
"No, no, no , I don't need those things, you must keep them". He said.
"But I also brought you some note books and a pen"
"Yes these I will take, Zoe you must sit with me"
I couldn't believe it, Pierre was asking me to join him.
He put his guitar to the side with his handwritten music and I sat down on the milk crate he pulled up for me.
The conversation we had was deep. We talked about life, love, children, sex, music, having the choice to be a slave to society, freedom, god, food. He declared that I was a philosopher just like him.
I cried. Pierre understood me. I was connecting with him.
Very few friends of mine understand me like that and within the first 30 seconds he understood me.
He knew the secrets of the world. He was sharing them with me.
I noticed his belongings, a back pack, books, a bag of rolls, I asked him where he gets the coffee thats in a re-used orange juice bottle and he said causally "from home, I live in Newtown". I'm gobsmacked and ashamed that I assumed he was homeless. Yes he is missing teeth. He is dirty and skinny. But he isn't homeless. He says he's free. He has enough. Enough food, money. He says he isn't alone. He has the trees, the water, his guitar.
I ask "Why do you spend so much time here".
He answers "When you don't live pleasantly, you must go somewhere that is pleasant to be around".
He tells me he is his own teacher. He learns the guitar because when he strums a string it speaks to his soul. He learns from the guitar, slowly.
I cry again.
I am trying to hold back the tears, scared to frighten my new best friend. When he says" if you feel to cry, just cry".
Pierre changed my world. He told me because I brought him a gift that he would return the favour. He asked me to get up off the milk crate as he rose to give me a hug. A beautiful warm hug.
"That is my gift to you Zoe. Now fly into the day"
Before I even managed to ask where he will be next or if we should make a time, Pierre was already back to strumming on his guitar.
I didn't want to interrupt.
My walk back to the car took gratitude to a whole new meaning.