Archive for August, 2010


The Dirty Hand (Kenneth)

As a foreword I live in Richmond, Virginia as a VCU student. Everyday we see homeless people all over the city and it really is such a sad sight for me. I’m thankful for what I have and don’t take anything for granted. I wish more people had that in common with me.

I met a homeless man today after hanging out with some friends and picking up a package from the post office. He was sitting outside on the stoop of some sort of building near the street I lived on. As I was walking past him I noticed there was something different about him than the other homeless and hungry people in Richmond; he wasn’t begging or drinking a beer to hide the pain. It looked to me as if he was just a man who needed a break. The man had curly, whitening hair with surprisingly nice eyes. So, I sat down next to him and asked him if he minded me asking some questions about him. I wanted to know what it was like to be homeless… how it happened to him. What was his life like and what he has to do now just to survive. He told me a lot of stories about his experiences in Richmond and what the city was like a long time ago.

To make it short, this was a man who had come out of the Navy at the age of 20, enrolled in a community college in Richmond, finished up his trade there, became a painter (for the slumlords who often over-price housing in the VCU vicinity), settled down and got married and had a kid, lost jobs left and right by the betrayal of these landlords leaving him without a family or a home at this point.

What I admire about this guy is that he hasn’t given up. He hasn’t reduced himself to begging and throwing away the only thing he really had left which was dignity and pride. He stays in a shelter home and does the chores that are required of him. He still looks for jobs and doesn’t really want to rely on anyone else to take care of him. He’s not a bad person at all from what I gathered. He just needs a break; a break I feel like I would have given him had I the resources.

After talking he stood up and I stood up as we were about to separate back two our completely different paths, he extended his arm for a hand-shake and although I felt deep empathy for this guy and felt terribly for him, the first thing that came to my mind was “His hand is probably dirty and I don’t know if I should touch it.” But, I shook his hand anyway. I have soap at home. This guy doesn’t own anything. How dare I even question getting my hand dirty when this man has been dirty for months and months.

Why do we, as the spoiled and often stuck-up college students, take so much for granted and look down upon others who have probably once in their life been in much higher positions than we have or possibly may ever reach? Are we still playing that game we played at the age of 6 involving a make-believe disease called cooties or something? Is it so difficult to extend a hand or even our ears to someone who has no one to talk to? someone who has no money, no home, no companionship? I think the least we could do is say “Hi” which can’t hurt. So what if we make eye-contact and they ask us for money….? Just say “no, sorry,” or “I don’t have any, I wish I could.” There are some of those homeless people who are not bad and they deserve more than nothing. I wish life was fair.

I walk away from the situation thinking that any of us could be reduced to living on the streets and should NEVER take anything for granted. If you’re religious, you damn-well better be thanking your maker that you were chosen to have what you have. If you are not religious, you better be feeling pretty lucky. Horrible things DO happen and leave some of the best people stranded in a sea of apathy. Today I realized how GOOD I have it and how I better cherish it before I lose it.

So, my friend Keyara and I are having a battle on creativity in writing. We are comparing and contrasting two absolutely random items you would never have thought to compare or contrast. My challenge from her is my big toe and a tree! It’s ON!

My big toe and a typical tree have a lot in common. They both have a tough exterior (the toe nail and the tree bark). They offer protection for the whole of the item. A lot of times, toes can get nasty parasites that cause them to get brown or yellow. Trees also have parasites like mistletoe which can cause harm to the organism. Trees and toes can both respond to stimuli but in different ways. Trees respond with different types of trophisms which affect the growth of the organism.

On another hand, they have worlds in between them for contrast. My big toe is attached to a whole organism where as the strong mighty tree stands up on it’s own and is its own organism. Most big toes are only different in terms of size, shape, and color where as trees can be so many different varieties of species and classifications. Although the skin on toes can get “ashy,” they don’t normally grow foliage nor flowers or fruit. One last thing is that there is a nervous system that operates in my toe which allows it to send signals to me to respond to stimuli or make it motile. Trees and toes can both respond to stimuli but in different ways. Trees respond with different types of trophisms which affect the growth of the organism.

Trees and big toes are completely different objects in normal, every-day thought. However, there are some similarities in structure and the roles of certain parts which aid in survival. It’s certainly not impossible to relate randomly selected objects. When you get to the building blocks of matter, everything in this universe was created from the same source. Tree man

Azalea Bonzai (Azalea indicum)

I have a slight passion for bonzai trees. I recently purchased three beauties from a Walmart at a discounted price when doing some back-to-school shopping. I like them because they are actually trees that don’t need huge areas for roots to grow and they are so accurate in scale to the hardwoods you see outdoors. Some bonzai flower. Some bear fruit. Some have beauteous foliage and some don’t bare any leaves at all. They are beautiful regardless.

My favorite of the bonzai is the Azalea bonzai. It is a beautiful flower with many shades and is beautifully symmetrical. It adds so much color and can easily steal focus from it’s surroundings. Flowers normally are dainty and show signs of fairness and meekness, but this flowering plant is not a weakling at all. With it’s low center-of-gravity and it’s hardwood trunk, it tells its distant relatives that it is not a pushover. This plant is here to stay.