Kind Over Matter
Los Angeles, California - a cross section of great influence and great need. On the same Tesla-graced streets the rich and famous parade, a man pitches his tent - nameless, nothing but a statistic of L.A.’s homelessness epidemic.
There are 50,000 people living in the streets and I pass at least a dozen every day. Some people chose the street life, others were forced into it through desperate and unfortunate circumstances. Either way, these people are struggling to make ends meet and fulfill their basic human needs and something seriously needs to be done about it.
I am a serial procrastinator, so when I see a need, my instinctive reaction is to put it on a to-do this. “Volunteer at a homeless shelter” gets lost down the list in my phone with “do laundry” and “buy toilet paper”. I satisfy my guilty conscience by writing it down but just like the towering pile of dirty clothes in my laundry basket, nothing is ever resolved without action. I guess for me, this kind of procrastination came from the idea that in order to make a difference, I had to act in a huge way.
I was so inspired by my friend, Destiny, when she came to visit LA. When we went out to eat, she would order an extra meal to go and leave it with the person, wrapped in a sleeping bag or begging out the front of the store. She demonstrated just how easy it is to meet a need in a second. Such small acts of kindness can’t change the entire world, but they can change one person’s entire world - so they are worth the effort.
This afternoon, I was walking to meet a friend and I walked past a man holding a “Dreamin of Panda Express” sign as the smell of fried rice, chow mein wafted down Sawtelle Blvd. His eyes sparkled as I told him I was grabbing Panda and asked if he wanted to join me. I wish I could have sat with him and heard his whole life story but he wanted to take his meal to-go. Either way, my heart was as warm as the box of Beijing Beef he held as he strolled into the Sawtelle sunset, leaving begin the sign he had been holding.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I knew that by taking my mind off my selfish tasks, and to-dos, I had made a difference in that one man’s day. It would have been so easy to look at my own circumstances and say “I’m going to be late to meet my friend” when in reality, I’m just super blessed to have a community around me to love and support me. It could have been easy for me to think “I can’t do this, I can’t even afford my rent this month”. But hey, at least I have rent that needs paying! I had to put mind over matter and actually listen to my conscience when I saw the struggle.
For me, putting “kind over matter” is something I’m really trying to incorporate into my life. Every day, I want to challenge myself to do something that shows someone else kindness and helps them leave their longing behind. Homelessness is not the only need in this city, I want to be the kind of person who is a friend to people who are feeling lonely, who sends encouraging texts to those who are crippled by their insecurities and who helps the elderly woman carry her groceries out to the car.