George is doing his usual coffee & newspaper thing when Xavier calls to ask if he's busy today - George says, "I'm just waiting for you. Let me know when you get into town."
Since George retired, he has been doing a little tutoring in his spare time, but has taken a week off from that, so he is quite free.
X arrived a bit later and said that he had a friend drop him off, so they get some food & relax to catch up.
George mentioned some things that he had said before, like 'get a job and save your money' - 'there are better days ahead' - stuff like that.
Xavier goes into more detail about what he has been going through the past few years and George is angered that anyone's parents could be so irresponsible when it comes to their own children. It would appear that they are not decent people at all. They are certainly not good role models.
George tells him, "I hope you can leave this ghetto and get away from your parents, because they're poison!"
Then X drops a 'bombshell' - he says that one of his sisters is pregnant, about to give birth at any time, and the parents simply don't care that she is homeless, too.
George is outraged and tells X to contact a social worker so the county will take care of her. He says, "all kinds of complications can happen; she could die!"
When G asks X if he likes the new wallet he gave him (with the biker chain) X says that he wouldn't be caught dead with that thing (he thinks it looks 'gay') so G says, "well, just give it back to me then."
Then they take a nice air-conditioned bus ride to Walmart, ostensibly to
just browse around and look at things.
George attempts to buy Xavier another wallet, more to his liking, but X says that it's not really necessary, as he has an old one that he could use.
George suggests keeping it in his front pocket so that it wouldn't fall out and get lost or left behind on the bus. He says, "we can learn from our mistakes and not keep repeating them."
George offers to buy him some bananas to take home and share with his sister, but Xavier says that he doesn't eat them. George thinks that's odd, because he has one almost every morning. But then, tastes differ, don't they?
George is trying to think of the word, 'protege' but keeps coming up with "prodigy" - he knows that the root word is 'protect' so he finally 'googles' it and tells Xavier that he wants to explain their relationship - then he has to back-track and tell him not to be spooked by the word 'relationship' - he says, "you have some kind of relationship with everyone, even the stranger you pass on the street. It doesn't mean that there is anything 'romantic' going on.
"What I mean is that I feel like I'm your benefactor, and mentor." Xavier had to agree with that - he says that George is like an uncle or maybe a grandfather figure to him.
George also wants to encourage Xavier to do something with his musical talent - maybe write some songs. And he could introduce him to some musician friends who might be able to help him with copywriters, etc.
He said, "some people make good money writing songs for others to sing."
While they're waiting for a ride, they discuss different types of humor - Xavier is finally getting relaxed around George enough to be himself. He likes negative, sarcastic jokes, but George has a 'dry' sense of humor. He thinks it's more intellectual.
What a confusing day - George passed up an invitation to go out for breakfast with some guys his own age, because he expected Xavier to call.
When X did call, it was to invite G over to his town to 'hang out' and we know how George feels about that. He reluctantly agreed, but later X called back to say that he was coming to see George.
After a while, X called to say that he was in town, but had gotten lost. George asked him to name the streets on the corner nearest him, and then went to meet him.
"Why didn't you tell me that you were in transit? I could have met you at the bus station like I usually do"
Xavier is feeling stressed and has some anxiety about everything that is going on in his life.
They head for the nearest A&W Root Beer restaurant, but it's lunch time, so the place is quite busy. George suggests taking the bus to the main shopping district where there are many other restaurants to choose from.
They eat lunch, but X is doing this shy & nervous, almost paranoid thing because he doesn't like to be around people. George tells him, "You're doing that to yourself, it's all in your head. You need to get over that. If someone actually does look at you, they're probably thinking, 'what a good looking young man'... I don't know why you're so worried about it."
George is trying to help Xavier get over his fear of being around other people -
he says, "You need to do the very thing that you are afraid of doing. You do your
shopping, and then take your selections to the cashier. They're not going to bite you. The way we learn is by repetition. The more you do something, the easier it gets. But if you keep thinking about the thing that you fear doing, instead of just doing it, the fear gets stronger. Thoughts have energy; what you focus on increases.
"I recently saw a woman who was having a terrible day, like nothing was going right. I thought to myself, 'a lot of that is her perception and attitude; an incident that only lasts five minutes doesn't have to ruin the whole day'."
Xavier calms down enough to ask if he can 'borrow' some money. George knows he's never going to pay it back, but he really doesn't care. He's just glad to help, but he is also quite emphatic that Xavier needs to get a job so he can get out of the rut he's in. He says, "I'm not Santa Claus; I can't keep giving you money."
They agree to meet the following day, and we will see what tomorrow brings.
The next day X-man tells George, "My teeth are stained, how can I whiten them?... They hurt all the time, too."
George told him, "OK, that's two different problems. First find out why they hurt and address that.
"You may need to see a dentist to find out what's wrong. It might even have something to do with the foods that you eat.
"They make tooth paste for 'sensitive' teeth, and there are several tooth pastes that can make your teeth whiter. A "home remedy" would be brushing your teeth with a baking soda/lemon juice paste. But be sure to rinse your mouth well after using that kind of thing.
"We can go shopping for toothpaste next time we meet and see what's available."
Then late one night Xavier sent George a text message, "Hey, 'uncle' George, I'm real drunk right now but I want to say 'thank you for saving my life'. Love you, man."
George wrote back, "Hmmm... OK, thanks. Please call me when you're sober. I'd like to see you and talk."
Being a recovered alcoholic himself, George has a problem with anyone drinking to excess. He knows that some people can drink and not have a problem but he would hate to see X-man go down that path.
Anyone with low self esteem, self hatred or too much guilt could easily fall into the trap of drinking too much just to kill the pain and forget about their troubles for a while, and that's a 'slippery slope'.
He knows too, that there are many different meanings for the word "love" so he doesn't 'trip' on that.
When he was doing his theological studies, he had learned that in ancient Greek, they had four different words for four different kinds of love.
The Greek language distinguishes at least four different ways as to how the word love is used. Ancient Greek has four distinct words for love: agápe, philía, storgē, and éros. However, as with other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words when used outside of their respective contexts. Nonetheless, the senses in which these words were generally used are as follows:
· Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē) means "love: esp. brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God." Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the "love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as brotherly love, affection, good will, love, and benevolence. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit). Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one's children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast. It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children. This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as "to will the good of another."
· Philia (φιλία philía) means "affectionate regard, friendship," usually "between equals." It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. In his best-known work on ethics, Nicomachean Ethics, philia is expressed variously as loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. Furthermore, in the same text philos denotes a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.
· Storge (στοργή storgē) means "love, affection" and "especially of parents and children" It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in "loving" the tyrant.
· Éros (ἔρως érōs) means "love, mostly of the sexual passion." The Modern Greek word "erotas" means "intimate love." It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage. Plato refined his own definition: Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, "without physical attraction." In the Symposium, the most famous ancient work on the subject, Plato has Socrates argue that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth, the ideal "Form" of youthful beauty that leads us humans to feel erotic desire – thus suggesting that even that sensually based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros.
NOTE - I take " agape' " to mean benevolence or good will - it's a one way, unconditional love that never ends, and has 'no strings attached'.
When George learned that it was Xavier's birthday, he agreed to spent the day with him and buy some clothes that he wanted. George asked him if he would rather get a couple of expensive shirts, or go where he could buy several items for the same amount of money..
X-Man made the right choice, but when it came time to actually go do that, he was in one of his anxiety/paranoid states and didn't want to be around other people.
George told him that the only way to overcome this fear was to do the very thing that he was afraid of doing. They discussed this and debated the question for quite some time, and just as G was about to tell him that he wouldn't be able to help him anymore, X said that he had written another song, and wanted to sing & play for him.
So they walked down to the guitar store, and like last time, George felt that Xavier showed some talent for writing songs and could maybe even make some money at it if he made the right connections.
George reminded him that if he would just show up on Sunday morning, he could introduce him to some professional musicians who might be able to help him get his music published, and perhaps work towards a career in that field.
Since X-Man didn't want to go shopping, after much discussion, G gave him some money and told him to buy something for himself when he was able to, maybe when he gets back 'home' and they agreed to meet again, the next day.
George hopes that Xavier feels better tomorrow, because it was quite a stressful day trying to encourage him to take action in spite of his fears.
On the other hand, George was surprised and pleased that Xavier was trying to get up and going a little earlier in the day than he had been doing in the past.
George also pointed out to him that if he was ever going to get out of the rut that he was in, being homeless and unemployed, he would need to get a job, keep it, and save up some money so he could get his own place - and hopefully, get out of the ghetto that he has been living in. (and away from his parents)
Right, the next day, no contact - G is waiting for X to call, not going chasing after him, as he's afraid the kid may have gotten drunk even though they had talked about the fact that it would be a bad idea.
George had told him, "It's a waste of money, you might do something foolish and get yourself in trouble, plus you feel rotten the next day," and Xavier had agreed with that logic.
George is thinking that if a person has low self-esteem, or they are depressed & hopeless, they would be likely to turn to booze and drown their sorrows. But that's where G's mind goes, it says nothing about "X-Man"
Xavier called Sunday morning and wanted to talk. George told him he would be tied up until noon. So they met for lunch and X-Man brought George up to date. He had a successful job interview, and would be starting to work any day now.
He also reported that his pregnant sister is now in the hospital, so that's one less thing to worry about.
X is doing better at being around people; he's trying hard and the results show it.
George suggested that X might want to re-read the "X-Man" story that he has been writing, because a lot of his theories and philosophy was expressed in it.
They have yet to connect with the musician friend who G hopes will be able to set X up with professional contacts, but tomorrow is another day.
Since Xavier lost his wallet, he needed to get a replacement I.D. to prove who he is (new employers are funny that way) - George had told him that he couldn't keep giving him money, BUT that he would help with things that were important or necessary.
And George told him that he didn't owe him anything. He said, "Back in the 'Hippie' days, we used to say, 'pass it on' meaning to just help someone else if you can. Now they say, 'pay it forward' which means the same thing; further down the road, you may be able to help another person in some small way, so what goes around, comes around. It makes the world a friendlier place."
During their discussion, he also mentioned a few other things that were interesting, but not really related, like the time that he told a neighbor that he made a habit of walking downtown every morning to get a cup of coffee and read the newspaper. His neighbor had commented, "Oh, you should get a coffee maker and make your own coffee at home." She missed the point; the coffee was only incentive to get out and talk a walk; otherwise, G would just sit and read all day.
Another time, when G didn't have a running vehicle, someone asked him to be
at a certain place on a certain day for an event, and when G said, "I'll try." the guy came back with, "Don't tell my you'll 'try' - that means that you won't try." (and George thought to himself, "you sonofabitch, you don't know that about me")
"You see," said George, "people make the mistake of thinking that their opinions are facts. Like the man who said that 'if you carry a spare tire in your car, that's just asking for trouble' or the one who commented, 'if you can't remember to take your medicine, then you don't really need it'.
"Another thing that we have to watch out for is hearing what we want to hear, or seeing what we want to see...once when I was walking, I saw a piece of litter on the ground, and remarked, 'Damn Pigs' and a woman passing by commented, 'sometimes it's not the kids, sometimes it's the adults'... you see, she heard what she expected to hear, not what I really said.
"And we can't always make assumptions, either. Just because a man is sitting on a bench with a backpack, that doesn't mean that he is homeless. I might approach them and ask if they are hungry; offer to buy them a sandwich, but beyond that I can't judge what's going on with them.
"Once I gave my girlfriend a lovely plaque that said, 'I can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or I can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses'. - and she wanted to know if I thought she was a rose or a thorn - I tried to explain that it's about attitude or perception. It had nothing to do with her as a person."
George also talked about the "Perennial Philosophy" that he had read about; the idea that everything is a manifestation of the 'divine' - even rocks, flowers, trees, dogs & cats, you & me. He said that the best example he'd heard was that while waves on the ocean are a temporary separate manifestation, they remain connected to the ocean, and then they return to their source. It's just all ocean.
Or to put it succinctly, "There is only ONE and you are part of That. There is only ONE and you ARE THAT.... Pure Consciousness,, aware of Itself; THAT is God. THAT is Who You Are and THAT is What You Are."
That explains why some 'gurus' call themselves 'God' or say "Thou Art God" - it actually makes sense when you put it that way
Then they talked about conspiracy 'nuts' and how people want to believe weird things, like UFO's and alien abductions. George recalled the "Y2K" scare and how some thought that all business and communications would come to a crashing halt because the computers couldn't figure out the date.
Another good one was when the "planets were lining up" and folks really thought that the world was coming to an end. At the time, George laughed about that one and said, "it's a big clock that goes around and around; do you really think that this has never happened before?"
He also said that he once knew a man who was so involved with the daily horoscope that he couldn't leave the house without reading it.
And talking about Xavier's job prospects G quoted Socrates, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new."
Then George complained about the heat, and said that he tried to get his errands and walking exercise done in the morning before it gets too darned hot. Since he has a bad heart, the heat really saps his energy, and he also said that he finds it hard to breath since the air is so polluted in the area where they live.
So old George is starting to show his age. In his mind, he thinks that he is still 25, but his body says, "Oh no you're not." Whenever they are out walking together, George has to keep asking X-Man to slow down.
No one knows it yet, but G bought himself a new leather vest for Father's Day. Although he hasn't been on a motorcycle for nearly 40 years, he used to ride a lot and at one time even owned three of them.
X-man has yet to make an appearance at church, but George suggested to him that if he wanted to come early Sunday morning, he could listen to the musicians rehearsing before the church service started.
As they were parting, G said, "you don't have to do what I tell you, but if you're smart, you'll listen to me and at least consider what I say."
One day Xavier randomly asked George, "If I went into the music business, would you be willing to be my manager?"
George was surprised, and a little bit humbled, but said, "Yes, of course. I would be honored that you trust me that much." George had heard horror stories of musicians being cheated by their managers, and felt it a great compliment to be trusted with that kind of responsibility.
Xavier said that he felt like they were best friends and even life-long friends, and George said he would agree with that assessment. He thinks of X as "one of his kids".
Then X told him, "In all honesty, the day we met at the bus stop in front of Walmart, I was on my way back to my own town to kill myself. You have given me so much help and encouragement that I can see I have a lot more to live for now."
George said, "WOW. That means I may have done something right for once in my life. But you have to make all the effort and do all the work."
They walked and talked, and X-Man said that he had written a couple more songs. He sang for a bit, and George told him again that he thought he had talent, and a possible future in the music industry.
Over lunch, Xavier told George that he had applied for several possible jobs.
George asked if his parents were giving him any help at all, and he said, "NO". But the fact is, he has been camping out in their back yard, and they don't even know that he's there.
They discussed the "Perennial Philosophy" again, and X-Man said that it was starting to make sense to him.
In the process of denigrating organized religion, George asked Xavier, "How many people have you met who are really 'Christ-like'?"
X-Man said, "Only one." and George wondered momentarily if he might mean him, but immediately dismissed the thought.
George says, "Well, it all comes down to "The Golden Rule" - that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. Which incidentally, is not a Christian concept. Buddha was teaching that 500 BC and it's found in some form in every major religion."
George needs to do what he calls a "Reality Check" - He wants to know how X-Man survived the past two years before they met. In spite of his best efforts, X still has not found work, and keeps asking for more money. G is too softhearted not to give it to him, but it's creating a problem.
G doesn't want to cut him off or push him away. If he could magically snap his fingers and fix everything, he would certainly do that, but there is a limit to what he can do, living on a small income himself. (When you're only drawing $1,000/month, and your rent takes 1/2 of that, things can get pretty tight).
But at the same time, George is worried about X-man and feels bad about the situation he's in. He wishes that he could do more to help.
He wants to tell him that he's not a loser or a failure; he just hasn't had any good breaks in life. And sometimes, we have to create our own opportunities,
just make things happen.
During one of his tirades, G made the statement, "I don't believe that anyone is an 'expert' - sure there are people who know more about a given subject than most others do, but nobody knows everything, and no one is always right, so I take everything 'with a grain of salt' - that is, I tend to be skeptical and do my own research, because I've been misinformed and steered the wrong way too many times by people who claimed to know what they were talking about."
George had stated before that he thinks the medical industry is own by the pharmaceuticals.
"One of the things I hate about doctors is that they are quick to label a person with some problem which they then want to treat with drugs. 'Oh, you're this, you're that, your something else...we have a pill for that.' "
So X-man has been diagnosed with both depression and schizophrenia, but George read the "Signs & Symptoms" and he's just not convinced that X is
afflicted with schizophrenia.
Knowing that X doesn't like crowds, or being around strangers, George went to meet with some friends to find out what kind of resources were available in his area, and got a bunch of information that should be of use to Xavier. Now all he has to do is meet up with his boy and show him what he found out.
Then X-Man had a great idea. He had heard that some people get donations through "gofundme" so he opened an account with them and put up this ad -
I'm 20 years old and living in a very small town called Farmersville in California. Currently I stay in a tent under a bridge with my loyal companion/my dog and wake up to the same thing everyday. I can't seem to land a job although I continue to turn in applications with a sense of false hope that I might get lucky this time. In the past 5 months I've been to "Kaweah Delta Mental Health" in Visalia, CA for over 3 suicide attempts, each time having to leave my dog to fend for himself. I can't keep going like this. I'm at the end of my rope. My mental health is deteriorating along with whatever pride & dignity I have left. I am diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia so you can only imagine why no one will hire me. Please, anything will help. with a link - www.gofundme-need-help-getting-off-the-streets
George thought that was a brilliant plan and promptly posted it on his Facebook page, and sent the appeal to everyone on his family/friends mailing list.
A couple of days went by, and much to their surprise, nothing happened. There were no donations at all, so G thought, "Maybe I should kick it off. Here I'm asking people to do something that I'm not doing myself." So he borrowed $50 and made the first donation to get things started - where will it go from here? Only time will tell.
After a few days with no results, X-Man wanted to take down the "gofundme" ad and end the appeal, but G suggested leaving it up until after the 1-st of the month because that's when some people get paid. He said, "Money is tight around the end of the month and they just haven't had a chance to respond yet."
Then G consulted his Smart Cousin, and she wrote:
"Truthfully, I have seen a lot of go-fund-me appeals & very few seem to be 'successful' and those mostly involve kids (or parents) with medical problems . . he is pretty non-specific in what he wants to do with the funds . . even if he had a pic of his dog & was asking for $$ for dog food / vet bills & included a story of how he ended up with the dog (dog was also homeless & hungry . . dog gave him a purpose in life, etc)
"I have a friend who started a go-fund-me to send her autistic nephew & his disabled parents to Disneyland, which included getting them a newer / more dependable car because the autistic nephew is unable to fly due to being in an enclosed space with a whole bunch of strangers . . seems like they were after $8K & I doubt that they raised even a 10th of that."
So when G showed her comments to X, he added this to his 'blurb' -
"Money will go to helping me find a place to stay , food/water , and getting my dog checked out at his vet. I hate asking for hand outs but I'm tired of living this life and it's nearly impossible to get out of this place. Thank you."
Tuesday morning, 6:30 AM
Xavier called to say that he had just gotten out of detainment - his mother had him arrested because she saw him in the back yard,
(they weren't aware that he has been camping in their big back yard) and she SPIT IN HIS FACE! - what kind of people are these ?
They plan to meet for lunch, if he can find someplace to shelter his dog in his absence. George has some information and referrals to give him. Maybe that will help. (G can't even imagine this kind of life) X really needs some help.
George met with Xavier and gave him the info & referrals that he had, and encouraged him to keep trying.
When G asked if he was hungry, he said that HE HADN'T EATEN FOR FOUR DAYS
G checked his wallet; no 'fives' or 'tens' just a couple of 'ones' and a Twenty.
When he offered it to him, X didn't want to take it - said "you don't have to do that" and G said, "I can't NOT do that!"
Then X said, "I've never met anyone like you before."
(What is he supposed to do? He can't just walk away.)
G is hoping that some of the info he gave him pays off, G told him to call every damn phone number on the list and tell them that he is homeless and hungry.
Something has to change / something has to break loose for this guy.
Apparently, the 'social worker' who is supposed to be getting his 'food stamps' and ID card is doing little or nothing to help him.
In another email from G's cousin, she suggested: "Has he ever applied for Social Security Disability ? Considering the diagnosis of mental health issues & the lack of employment history / inability to be self supporting, he may qualify. It does take a while to get it & there are numerous hoops to jump through / lots of paperwork to complete & it isn't a large income, but it would be more than he is getting now & could open doors to other benefits like low-income / disabled housing, bus passes, etc . . I know several people who have qualified based on the above."
George met with Xavier again and X said that he had talked to his social worker and they were going to get some action on his case. George encouraged him to not lose hope and continue following up on the leads that he had given him. He also told him that he found out that there is a food bank in the next town over, which X didn't even know about.
And George told him that he will ask some church friends to pray for him. Xavier was surprised and pleased to hear that. So maybe next time they meet, he'll have some good news for a change.