Native – #freewrite No. 31, Day 1054
One man sat on the riverbank. Another man walked up behind him on the gravel access drive that ran behind the office building.
The day was hot for that part of the northwest coast. So hot that the second man was shirtless. A little Chihuahua trailed behind him. Once in awhile he would stop and speak to it so that it kept up with him.
The guy on the riverbank took a draw on his hand rolled cigarette. “Hey,” the second guy called to him, as he came up, “You got an extra rolling paper?”
Riverbank guy looked at shirtless man and saw his dirty hands and unkempt hair. Just a grifter, he knew. They were rife in that part of the world, something he had learned when he emigrated to the area a few years ago.
“No, sorry, I left them at home.”
“Ah, that sucks. Well, they’ll sell me like 60 for a dollar at the store,” the second man walked backwards, continuing on his way.
“Yeah, that’s not bad.” The stingy guy wrinkled up his nose. As the second man turned away, the little dog squatted to take a piss not two feet away from where he sat.
Damn riffraff, he thought.
Evening on the river, Hoquiam, Wash.
Based on a true story
The fiction above is a rendition of an experience I had on the riverbank recently in my hometown of Hoquiam, Wash. Except I really did leave my papers at home; otherwise I would have shared. I mean, who can’t spare a rolling paper?
It can feel like Hoquiam is full of people drifting around, trying to see what they can get whether they need it or not (and to be fair, most really do need it). This was a source of some culture shock when I first moved here. I grew up in rural and small town Indiana, where homelessness and destitution, if present at all, were at least not so visible.
There are plenty of people, here, who have a stingy and pejorative attitude toward the homeless and poor, like my alter ego above. I’ve also found a strong culture of sharing on the streets. This culture includes both the expectation of receiving help (to the point that some are affronted if you say no) and a willingness to extend help. On more than one occasion when I’ve been down-and-out, those helping me have said, essentially, “Hey, we’ve all been there.”
I prefer the sharing to the hating on people. However, I’ve come to believe, from certain New Age teachings, that no amount of sharing (or socialism, either) will ever fill the abyss of neediness. The only way to stop being needy is for the individual to shift from a feeling of lack to a feeling of gratitude and abundance.
Of course, feeling abundant makes it a heck of a lot easier to share, doesn’t it? But there is a big difference in sharing from a feeling of abundance and sharing from a sense that someday I’m going to be needy again too, so I’d better help. If, as I believe, vibration (the emotional quality or motivation of an act) creates reality, then sharing out of fear of future scarcity just perpetuates neediness.
Unfortunately, that fear of scarcity is the basis for the culture of sharing that accompanies the destitution in Hoquiam. The poor help each other because they’re afraid that someday they’re gonna need help – and around and around we go.