Spring Broken

31 03 2011

The throngs of students is thinning along Florida’s Gulf Coast. I have just returned from a pleasant drive through Panama City Beach. There are still some young bucks and pretty fillies roaming the resorts, but for the most part, the college crowd has returned to their respective campuses. In their wake, is what, my partner David refers to as the “spring broken.”

These are the people who flock to the Beach to cash in on the partying with no intent on furthering their higher education. They usually go the way of the homeless.

Sitting outside of McDonald’s the other day, enjoying my smoothie drink and soaking up the sunshine, I was confronted by one of the Broken. My mistake was making eye contact, which gave him the green light to proceed.

“Hey Brother, can you spare a few dollars so I can get something to eat,” said the Broken man.

It always begins with “Brother.”

During my campaign, I encountered many homeless people. Such was the state of affairs in area crippled by a disastrous oil spill and weak economy. I made it a priority to shine the light on their struggles and to visit organizations dedicated to lending a helping hand.

Sadly, I also found that not every “Broken” person wants a way out of their situation.

“My wife and I are on the street,” the man continued, although their was no sign of this ‘wife’ and he didn’t appear to be starving.

I looked at the man again in the eyes — without uttering a word.

He read my mind and moved along, mumbling to himself all the way. I felt uncompassionate at first, but knowing the street life, I realized he had the ability to find shelter and provisions for his family, if they did exist, and my two cents would have little affect. There are those who are truly in dire circumstances and this man was not one of them. Broken maybe, but still capable of pulling up his boot straps.

Balancing compassion with security has become a major theme of Panama City’s municipal election. What voters need to hear now, more than anything, is a success story. We know the causes of homelessness — mental illness, substance abuse and poverty just to name a few. And we have seen the Broken walking the streets, gathering at the Mission and sleeping on park benches.

What we, as a community, need to see now is the ones who made it out alive. The ones who pulled themselves up by their boot straps and with a little help from Uncle Sam, the Almighty or an unsung guardian angel, graduated to a productive life.

My walk through humility forever changed how I view society. It gave me a unique perspective on the plight of the less fortunate. I can voice my observations and opinions confidently because I have walked in their shoes.

To me, the bottom line to getting out of the bottom of the pit is recognizing where you are.

There is help out there. The first step is seeking it.

 

 





Depressed

8 02 2011

Dallas seems like so long ago now. I’m blogging on an early Tuesday morning from the snug confines of my home in Panama City Beach. Isolated. Such fun.

I still haven’t found meaningful employment, which is taking its toll on my male bravado. I’m trying to stay active in the local political scene, but the powers that be are doing their very best to freeze me out.

David, my dear confidant, continues to preach the Gospels to me in an effort to snap my grip on depression. But even he is losing patience.

I figured, at the very least, I would get one job offer out of my run for State Representative. But so far nothing, notta, zippo. I continue to attend government meetings and my Twitter followers are rising, but still no paycheck.

Back in Dallas, where the economy is strong, I encountered many professional gay men my age who were enjoying life and their surroundings. They were empowered and had strong support groups.

I truly feel Panama City takes delight in my misfortune and struggles. If this is living out loud then so Be it.

I guess I’ll go down to the Soup Kitchen and Volunteer.





Birthday Reflections

17 10 2009

During tough times you learn to appreciate things that you so often took for granted before. Expressions of love, genuine good-will and sincerity.

My birthday included all those, mostly summed up in two words: Happy Birthday.

The words came from those close and far away. Even Dad telephoned his well wishes.

After dinner, I took a walk around the fantasy town known as Rosemary Beach with a close friend. The cool autumn breeze is beginning to roll in.

My friend said I had many more ‘Happy Birthdays’ ahead of me.

I hope he is right.

There is a time in everyone’s life when you feel as if you are damaged beyond repair. It is uniquely human.

Battling back from that place is tough, hard and, at times, can feel like an impossible task.

This is when your faith is tested. Faith in mankind, faith in yourself and faith in God.

For 37 years, I have struggled with this faith. My anger and frustrations reached a boiling point during the summer in New York City.

Soon, I will tell you about the Summer of ’09 and as a disclaimer, you must know it will be raw, real and uncensored.

Are you ready my loyal readers?





Lost and Found

11 10 2009

In July of 2008 I lost my job.

In August of 2008 I lost my grandfather.

In October of 2008 I lost my mentor.

In March of 2009 I lost my car.

In June of 2009 I lost my way.

Through these losses, I have found humility. And it is humility which I must never lose.