My gratitude list from Saturday morning. (Edited Nos. 9 & 10, in case you’re a person reading this who is on my “G-List.”) Many blessings and peace to all.
1. Solid sleep amid unusually vivid dreams, probably about 7 1/2 hours from around 930 to 530. How often did that happen when I was homeless? Glory to God, man.
2. Just received an insight about something I’ve been doing that’s been making it difficult to let go of the past. It’s a bit too personal for this list, but my gratitude is in the fact that, as I stop doing this thing that I’ve been doing, I will become less focused on the past, and more focused on the present, as a stepping stone to an even better future. It’s also not a hard thing to stop doing, especially given this new motivation and insight. So thanks be to God.
3. Got six bags worth of cleaning supplies, toiletries, food, and reading glasses at the Dollar Store for only $27 yesterday morning.
4. Completely washed the dirtiest dishes I’ve ever been known to accumulate by running hot water in the bathtub and washing them all there, with ease. Am also motivated to keep the dishes clean now; and, in fact, to clean up the house completely.
5. This is the first month when I got the idea to write down all my expenditures in a small notepad I keep in my coat pocket with a pen. Somehow, it’s hard to spend frivolously as I do this.
6. Switched to a local mobile phone provider, got a good plan, and will not have to change the number.
7. Arranged to meet with Shaun H. once a week, every Thursday at 8pm, and focus on practical things that will assist me in my recovery. I have a feeling it will work this time, that I will be accountable, and that I won’t flake.
8. Noted the synchronicity of my spending approximately an hour in the Dollar Store, and the lady from the church who gave me a ride down there while doing errands in the mall showed up back at the store at the exact moment when I was done at the checkstand. Things like that are somehow affirming of divine involvement.
9. Heard from Alastair, the editor of Street Spirit, with the information that she published Old Habits Die Hard in the November issue, and a request for an invoice. Here’s a link to a pdf of the paper. (I’m on p. 8).
10. I was doing some reading on the Christian concept of sanctification. There’s a lot of Christian language in there that might be off-putting to unbelievers, but two things I get out of it that I think many can appreciate are these: (1) it’s okay to be an Introvert, and (2) it’s about being true to your own true self. The world will always want to box us into one box or another. God’s not like that, because God is not of the world. He’s of eternity and truth, far beyond the things that will perish with the grave. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be becoming who I am.
Please donate to Eden in Babylon. Every little bit helps!
A. In many areas. But only one area is important to me at this time.
Q. What area is that?
A. It has to do with integrity, as we discussed last week. I lack confidence that I will be able to act according to my integrity, and not according to hypocrisy.
Q. Why should you ever prefer hypocrisy over integrity?
A. I don’t, in my heart. But at certain moments, I find myself choosing a hypocritical course of action, only because I lack confidence that I can find a way to act according to my integrity at that same moment.
Q. Can you provide an example of that?
A. Sure. Say I’m at an idle moment. I’m bored at that moment, and I don’t quite know what to do. I see before me a certain door. I am compelled to open the door, because on the other side will be people who will alleviate my boredom. But the only way that these people have ever been known to alleviate my boredom is that they provide me with an audience for the Entertainer in me. I will proceed to entertain them. They will laugh when I say funny things, and do comic imitations of people, and put on humorous expressions and mannerisms. And then, I will be gratified.
Q. Who are these people?
A. That’s a good question. They could be just about anybody, I suppose. In this case, they were a number of people I saw sitting behind the back door of the Recovery Center where I have been volunteering, that back door being made of glass.
Q. Did you then go inside and entertain them, in order to alleviate your boredom?
A. No, I did not. I turned and went next door, to a cafe where it was quiet, and I would find a way to alleviate my boredom, without having to entertain anyone.
Q. How did you manage that?
A. By doing what I am doing right now. I am sitting down at a quiet table in a quiet cafe, among many quiet students studying, and professors preparing their lectures. To entertain these people would be to interrupt their work, which would be quite rude. So instead I logged on my laptop to do my own work, and therefore blend perfectly into the atmosphere.
Q. But aren’t you still being an Entertainer?
A. How so?
Q. You’re entertaining me, aren’t you?
A. It’s not my intention.
Q. What about your readers? Aren’t they being entertained?
A. I hope not!
Q. And aren’t you still a hypocrite?
Q. But what you’re doing right now – sitting in this academic cafe the way you are — isn’t this just as hypocritical as ever?
A. I think not! I’m not hypocritical at all right now.
Q. You’re not?
A. No I’m not! I mean – what makes you think I am?
Q. Well, you’re not a student are you?
A. No – not in the strictest academic sense, as in pay tuition, take classes, and all that.
Q. And you’re not a professor, are you?
A. I am neither student nor professor, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do on my laptop.
Q. But by trying to blend in with all the academics. aren’t you trying to pretend to be one of them?
A. I see your point, but no I’m not. Plenty of people come in here to work on their laptops who are not students or professors.
Q. But still, you’re trying to look like a student or a professor — and isn’t this hypocrisy?
A. I don’t believe so, no. Even if I’m not an official student, I sort of feel like one. I’m always studying, doing research of various sorts. Especially, I research classism, and inequality, and poverty culture, and homelessness. This is who I am right now; it’s not hypocrisy.
Q. But haven’ you been an entertainer for most of your life? How is it hypocritical to keep being who you are?
A. Because I don’t think the Entertainer is the real me. The real me actually is more of scholar than an entertainer. Besides, a spiritual scholar is one who is seeking the truth. That describes me to a tee. But an entertainer? An entertainer tries to take people’s minds off of their troubles. In a way, the Entertainer keeps people from looking for the truth.
Q. But haven’t been there entertainers who also were spiritual truth-seekers. What about Dick Gregory?
A. What about him?
Q. Wasn’t he a comedian?
A. That he was.
Q. And didn’t he going on numerous hunger strikes, frequently fasting for forty days and forty nights for the sake of social justice?
A. That he did. But he was different. His comedy was about social and racial inequality. Observe:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent twenty years there one night.
Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said, “We don’t serve colored people here.” I said, “That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.”
Then these three white boys came up to me and said, “Boy, we’re giving you fair warning. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.” So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, “Line up, boys!”
Q. Well then why don’t you do like Gregory did?
A. What do you mean?
Q. Why not use your social activism in your comedy routine?
A. I sort of do that already. Among friends, that is. But what I’m trying to say is that, I am not a comedian at heart. I’m not an Entertainer at heart? I’m a spiritual man, and an Artist — a man of integrity, at heart. The Entertainer is just a facade. It’s just that I lack confidence I can ever shed that facade.
Q. Why bother?
A. What do you mean, why bother?
Q. Just what I said – why bother? Isn’t the Entertainer a part of who you are?
A. Maybe. This is all becoming very confusing. And a wee bit annoying, I might add.
Q. But aren’t I just asking logical questions, spinning off the things you’re saying?
A. I suppose you are, but it’s still kind of irritating.
Q. Should we adjourn till later?
A. Probably. I really do tire of this.
Q. Well, at least you’re not bored anymore, are you?
A. Get out of here!
The Questioner is silent.
Please donate to Eden in Babylon. Anything Helps – God Bless!