There is a myth we are taught growing up: poverty can be prevented. This isn’t to say that there are steps and precautions that can limit the possibilities of this unfortunate event. An ounce of prevention works for this as well, however to assume that one is immune to poverty is to assume that one lives in a vacuum which is only accountable to the will pondering and not the exertion of pressure which comes from every other direction of the food chain. The food chain is just the canvas for other pressures to mingle on, other forms of will working directly against you, most often without even realizing you as a factor. To sum up, most of the times it isn’t personal, we can all be collateral damage in the most banal of thoughtless ways.
One of the reasons homelessness is so scary when it happens, or even when people consider it happening to themselves, is the abruptness of the incident. It’s like the photo-negative of a game show. A game where you are the star and the show is: You Lose! And boy, you’re losing everything baby!
Quite frankly, homelessness is only mind-numbingly scary for roughly the first three months. After that, one of three things usually happens. One, you go crazy of some sort. Two, you grey out into a steady-state mild depression anyone can easily make worse self-medicating, which can be a perfect storm of all the wrong kina fun. Three is wild, you get fed up and start to climb out or acclimate to a money making hustle. This happens when you begin to appreciate your new nomad nature in comparison to the mad pace of the housed, who stress themselves to death trying to pay their bills with the skin of their teeth as collateral. If you’re on step three, you can mix in a little one and two for fun this time.
The only true prevention of this emotional train wreck I have ever deduced through this experience is inoculation. It’s the alien nature of being homeless that encompasses the bulk of the stress when it happens. The solution: pitch a camp off the grid and spend at least one weekend, or two to three consecutive days at it once a month. This is a task like physical fitness or cleaning, it’s an always thing to be considered a done thing, purely existing in the dynamic and ephemeral world.
Kane, from the old T.V. show, Kung-Fu, was one of my very first heroic role models in life, prior to the understanding of cultural conformity. I knew Kane was a monk, and that was like, some kind of holy man, and that he simply wandered around helping people who were being bullied or oppressed. It wasn’t until someone called him a bum that I even considered that. It seems that homelessness is, at least in part, more about conforming to the culturally expected desperation, shame and depression expected than to explore one’s own condition in it. Hopefully the philosophical ponderings will take some of the sting out if it happens to you.
Just remember, if you ever find yourself looking this condition in the face, or even on the horizon, do your best to not be intimidated by the surprise of it. If you want to disarm it, try to be one of the ones who make it fun and an adventure. Adventures, by the way, are at the opposite end of the spectrum of safety.