Is There Life After Retirement?

My Blind-ish, Privileged-ish Eye

Posted on: August 8, 2013

So there I was, driving to work this morning, trying to decide whether to hit Barnes & Noble or Starbucks for my morning caffeine when Donna Summer’s She Works Hard for Her Money came on the radio.

As I was singing along (badly) with Donna, I noticed a guy schlepping a trashbag full of empty soda cans along the highway by The Cannery Mall.  Now a sack of empty aluminum cans isn’t very heavy so in a split second, my thoughts went:

I wonder why he’s struggling with something that’s so light

Maybe he’s just been walking for a long time

Ha!  It fits the song well

(noticing his appearance)

He must be homeless or something



And then I was gone.

I’m not sure what my point is except it might be this:  In that instant my perspective changed and the dilemma of B&N vs. Starbucks became quite insignificant.  This happened over six hours ago and lasted for just a few seconds but I tell ya … I can’t get him out of my mind.  It wasn’t how he looked as much as the aura of exertion, of great effort that it seemed to take – just to get that sack of cans to the redemption center.  And the redemption value is probably about four bucks, if he’s lucky.  It struck me as a sort of allegory for the guy’s life in general.


It appears that the plight of those on the bottom rung of our economic ladder is the thing that could keep me up at nights – not because I don’t seem to be doing much about it, but instead – because I have no idea WHAT I/we can do.

So I changed the station and went to work.

6 Responses to "My Blind-ish, Privileged-ish Eye"

Nice write about an epiphany of an image…I saw this sign, amongst children begging shoeless in sewer water in New Delhi just upon our arrival here, it says: “Poverty is a State of Mind.” Still trying to process that one.

I read your comment last week and it still boggles my mind. The “poverty” sign that is.

Thinking that perhaps the only thing most of us can do is to support the efforts of programs who offer options and opportunities to people who, but for a couple of paychecks, go we.

Sandy, you might be right. I guess, for the moment at least, I’ll have to be content with that.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Marti! I have also grappled with the desire to do something yet not knowing WHAT to do—short of disrupting my life to dedicate it to a seemingly unsolvable problem that I am not particularly cut out to solve. So here are two ideas I use:

I can’t solve the problem, but I can contribute lovingly in some way. For me it’s prayer and water. I can always send prayers of comfort and healing. And I can carry a case of water in my car and offer bottles to the homeless panhandling at intersections—WHEN it “works” for me to do so. I routinely prep for this—I keep all the doors locked while driving so I’ll feel COMFORTABLE pulling up close to a stranger. I’ll roll down my window and ask if they are thirsty, then give them a couple of bottles of water. This way I know I’m doing something “positive,” not just paying for drugs and alcohol. So far offers of water have been gratefully accepted. If my ego nature tempts me to be upset that I’m not “doing more,” I choose not to go there. I have thought about offering food, maybe keeping some small bags of nuts in the car—something nutritious that won’t easily spoil or melt—but haven’t done it yet. If and when I am called to do more for this particular problem, I trust that I will hear the call and take action.

Politics is clearly not my calling, but it is the soul’s purpose of others. SOOOOOOOO, I can vote for people who care about the homeless.

Peace and Love~

Mahalo for sharing this. I used to do the food thing – especially around grocery stores. You do bring up a good point about the ego nature. I think I tend to get caught up in that, and tend to lose focus of what I can do internally. Thanks. Your comments are a good reminder of that.

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    • Joyce Burke: This was great too read
    • Debbie: I'm with miracarroll--it's your story, so create however you want. Leave the rest of us wondering which of the (mis)adventures are real, which might b
    • miracarroll: Marti, surely the people in your life are wise enough to know (especially after you say it) that you're a writer and in fiction, everything is fair ga
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