The Homeless Man

I was walking back from a swim at Venice Beach (LA) to my hotel as I came across a homeless man sitting by the side of the road. I intuitively put myself in his shoes, while looking at his naked, wounded feet. I blended with him in silence. A few breaths later the traffic stopped. He got up, stopped beside me and said without hesitation: “You got a big heart, huh? God bless you.” He walked off before I could say anything. I crossed the street and started crying. His words had touched me deeply.

The experience of being recognised by someone who has lost everything is heartening. He made me look into the mirror of my soul: the homeless person within myself. Although I have been never physically without a home, I have often felt out-of-place. I too have struggled and fought with my sense of belonging. It was as if he said to me: “welcome home”. It was an unexpected acknowledgment of finally arriving in the world that I was born into.

When we don’t belong we are confronted with the sensation and emotion of loneliness. Loneliness is an old wound bottled up inside of us. It not only keeps us separate from ourselves, but also from others and the world to which we belong. It’s the duality between working hard to be part of things, while actually not feeling connected at all. This was often the case when surrounded by people who did not see me for who I am. It would trigger the fear and pain of being rejected and excluded.

I would then often silently retreat from the relationship and avoid seeing them again. I realised that if I wanted to be free in relationship to other people I needed to heal this wound. Otherwise I would remain a hermit and never be part of things. The wound began to heal itself as I began to allow and feel it more deeply. I passed through it time and again, only to come out regenerated.

If we find the courage to face our loneliness, and heal the wound, we can receive life’s greatest gift: freedom. Not only do we more honestly face ourselves, but we also begin to walk on the ground of being and discover our place in the world. So we can finally do what we came here to do: to express our full potential and fulfil our destiny. Is the world not meant to belong to and be free in?

It reminds me of a poem by Hafiz: “Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut more deep. Let it ferment and season you. As few human or even divine ingredients can.”