There’s a line in an old Billy Joel song that says, “you’re only human,” and, boy, are there days when I wish I wasn’t. If you’ve not noticed yet, boys and girls, my column wasn’t in the paper for the last couple of issues. The reason, you ask? I’ve been ill and was recently hospitalized for my COPD, although you can also say it was for being stubborn.
Stubbornness is a family trait. We Shearers are told to go easy, but it’s not really in our wheelhouse. The term “slowing down to benefit one’s health” means little to us. Case in point: I got my flu shot as usual at the end of October. A few days later, I got a cold. No big deal, right? Except, when I catch a cold with COPD, the small annoying virus becomes an event.
I thought I could handle it. I got some over-the-counter cold medicine and took to my bed. I was determined to sweat it out. To cut a long story short, it didn’t work and eventually, just before Christmas, I ended up in the hospital.
Yes, I’m alright. But I had to take an honest look at what I’m doing these days. In order to stay out of the hospital, I need to take better care of myself, slow down, learn when to say no, exercise and eat right, etc. But I also had to look at what I was doing as far as advocating for the homeless, which at this point hadn’t been much. Being ill can cause you to fall into self-pity if you’re not careful, and you can find yourself not caring if you’re well or not.
For me, 2015 was not a kind year. I lost people to the streets this year, which hurt in a different kind of way. I also had to watch my godsons lose one of their parents, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. I also had my heart crushed by someone I had just met, which was funny and weird all at the same time. So when I became ill, I really didn’t care. I folded up my tent, took my ball and simply went home.
The realities of middle age have also affected me. Even Batman ages. But we all get a second wind, or at least, we should. Mine came as I read the story of David Magadini in the last issue of Spare Change News. Without getting into it too much, if the State Supreme Court upholds the homeless Magadini’s conviction, the implications for homeless people will be bad.
If a homeless person decides to to sleep in an abandoned building, on the steps of a church or even in a subway station rather than going to a shelter, that person could be arrested for trespassing, and that’s not right. It got me thinking that this is what I’m supposed to be fighting for: homeless people like David Magadini. I’m supposed to be helping the homeless to help themselves, fighting for them.
My resolution this year is to simply rededicate myself to that cause: finding a way to end homelessness. It is my passion. I don’t know if this is something I would be doing if I had never been homeless. But I do know it’s what I must rededicate myself to. I have family members and friends who do not understand why I do it. But I do it, and sometimes, that’s all that matters. I hope you join me. HAPPY NEW YEAR.