Meet my homeless friend, Robin.
I suppose what she was trying to say is that she gets tired of caring. I don't think that I've ever had that feeling, however, I will admit that at times I have felt, 'guilt fatigue'. What I mean by that is, I occasionally feel guilty walking by so many homeless people here in the city who are always asking for money. I can't possibly give to all of them and when I walk pass a few without helping, I feel guilty. I hate that feeling. I will actually cross the street just to avoid being asked for money, thus avoiding feelings of guilt. Although I have felt this kind of guilt, I have never lacked compassion.
When I lived in NYC and now here in DC I have always tried to view the homeless as people who are just less fortunate than me. When I walk by a homeless person, I whisper to myself, "There but for the grace of God go I".
When you live in a city you become familiar with homeless people in your neighborhood. They become a part of your surroundings. There is one homeless man in my neighborhood that I walk pass every day whose name is, Robin, AKA, "Frenchie" because he is originally from France (so he says). I know this about Robin because I say hello to him every day, and one day, as I handed him some spare change, I asked him his name. I wanted to know his name so that I could acknowledge him and say, "Good morning, Robin" when I daily walk by. Calling someone by their name allows that person to know that you recognize their presence in this world. It also says that they are human and that you see them, they are not invisible. I believe that it makes a homeless person feel that they have family, of sorts; I become a part of his daily family.
So, in this post I would like you to meet my friend and fellow artist, Robin. He sits down at Dupont Circle here in DC and sells painted rocks. I buy his rocks and I bring him art supplies. Today I gave him some new sharpies so he can continue having a purpose in this world. You see, Robin's rocks give him a purpose and having a purpose gives him dignity. Everyone in this world needs a purpose and dignity, otherwise they live in hopelessness and disparity.
This morning as I walked past Robin, I stopped and asked him if he would tell you guys a little about himself and his art, and so he did! Notice in the short video Robin repeatedly says, "I don't panhandle, I paint rocks". Robin sees value in what he does, his painted rocks give him a sense of integrity and pride.
You might not think that Robin's rocks are beautiful art, but to me, they are precious and wonderful works of art. Art is an expression of your inner soul, certainly, Robin's rocks are an expression of his soul. What I find amazing about his rock art is that they are painted so bright and happy. He paints images of the sun, flowers and life.
If art is an expression of what is within us, then inside of Robin is a soul that is full of life and happiness, even in the dire state that he finds himself in every day. I often think that if I was walking in Robin's shoes what would my rocks look like? Would I even find enough happiness inside myself to paint if I lived like he does? You see, that is why I find Robin to be a very special person.
Possibly, if the woman who feels 'compassion fatigue' took the time to see the homeless as real people with names, stories, dreams, and hopes, possibly she would never get tired of feeling compassion.
Robin makes me smile and feel good every time I walk pass him! Watch the video and see the light that is in this man. There are many different definitions for the word, compassion. My favorite one is, COMPASSION - Deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it. By taking just 3 minutes out of my day to stop and speak with Robin, I was able to make him feel special, and possibly for a moment relieve his suffering. I know it made my day more special. Open your eyes and your heart to those around you who may be suffering.
Remember, Your heart is like a garden. Plant a garden of compassion, kindness, and humility and see what it grows! I am glad that you walk in my garden every day by reading my blog and viewing my art.
Grazie, Ms. B.