In today’s world, many people forget to count the blessings they have, and instead constantly complain about the blessings they don’t have or the blessings they feel that they “deserve”.
About a month ago I was walking home from work when I saw a homeless ask for some food. I watched as another man walked by, spit on him, and told him to “go get a fucking job.” It was the most disrespectful thing I have ever seen someone do to another person. That image was cemented in my mind and I couldn’t even begin to fathom how the homeless man felt at that moment. Over time, as the memory of that moment began to fade, I found myself complaining to my God and friends about why things were not moving in my life financially, socially and professionally. I complained about my comedy career, my job and finances and then it hit me – there are people out there who have it way worse than I do so why am I complaining. My thoughts went back to that homeless man. I realized that I was taking many of the things in my life for granted and I decided that in an effort to fully appreciate and realize the blessings I have in my life, I would find out how it feels to be stripped of everything, leaving nothing but yourself and God. I decided to, at least for a few days, see what it was like to be homeless.
On Wednesday night April 21st I decided to take this journey and go out and see what it was like to be a homeless man. I had the roughest night of my life. I started off by trying to find a place to sleep at Penn’s Landing, I slept for about 20 minutes before a public security officer woke me up and told me that I couldn’t sleep there. I then walked about a half a mile away to the Korean War memorial park where as I slept on a bench, a huge rat ran across which made me extremely uncomfortable.
After the rat incident, I moved to a Sheraton Hotel because it was cold. I wanted get warm, go to the bathroom and get a drink of water from the bathroom faucet. I go in and a man (a Freemason like myself) told me that they don’t care how bad I have to use the bathroom, don’t care how thirsty I am, or how cold I am, there is no way he will let me use the facility. Afterwards, I saw a park bench in Washington Square and slept there, but after a short while, the temperature dropped to the point where there was no way I was going sleep sitting in one spot. I then proceed to 11th and Walnut where I found a heating sewer and sat there to get warm. Even though it was late April, I feel like I had never been so cold and I appreciated something so small as a heat blowing from sewer.
After I was instructed to leave there I slept at the Subway station at Broad and Walnut. While there I was able to spend time with other homeless people and converse with them. I met a guy who was a lawyer, lost his family, and then turned to drugs as a refuge. I also met nice people who said good morning to me and let me know that no matter what I was going through or what the day brought, be blessed. I thought to myself that they have a real positive outlook on life and they have nothing, absolutely nothing. At around 7 am, I woke up and walked around downtown, begged for food and was turned down by everyone. I even begged for water and no one wanted to help (or even point me in the direction of where I could get water for that matter). The looks I got and the way I was treated made me really feel like I was just as unimportant as the cement they walked on.
Through this experience I gained a whole new perspective on life. I’m learning to appreciate the little things., A homeless man wakes up and has nothing to look forward to but the steps that he’s going to take that lead him nowhere. People ask, “hey how you doing today” and we often reply, “same shit, different day” and that bothers me, because we are not doing the same shit everyday;, we’re in school, we have jobs, we have a reason to wake up every morning. Let’s be thankful for that and stop complaining the things we don’t have.
At the end of the day a lot of my family and friends didn’t understand my decision to do this and that is OK. It was a humbling experience that reminded me to never not be ungrateful for anything, appreciate the little things in life and keep my family and friends who care about me the most in my corner because you NEVER want to end up alone.
Clint Coley is comedian from Philaelphia. Follow him on twitter @brothaherm. Email Clint@uristocrat.com for booking information