Sharing is a hot topic for more reasons than Christmas.
A walking buddy decided her husband’s drinking had reached problematic proportion. She was no longer willing to share a life with alcohol.
“He changes from a generous and loving husband into an argumentative, self-centered galoot!” she said as we walked our four mile route.
Fortunately, with two houses, each could live in their own home. “I’ve told him I’ll only consider reconciliation if he gets help. After a year of not drinking and working on himself, we can see if we want to share life again.”
What a refreshing change to hear a woman stand her ground. “I’m not going to wimp into the victim mode! Not only is that ugly, it means I would be enabling him. I love him too much to keep doing that. Better I risk losing his love than have the risk of me hating the father of my child.”
“How are you feeling about living alone after all this time?” I asked.
“I plan to get a roommate…not that I want one, but to share expenses. Any suggestions for finding a good roommate?”
“I used an approach, many years ago, that turned out well. The potential roomie and I wrote the five things we hated most about having a roommate. We discussed the list with each other which was easy because it wasn’t personal. It saved a lot of time and hurt feelings.”
“Oh, I know what would be on the top of my ‘hate list’,” my walking buddy said. “I hate clutter. I want nothing on any of my counters, credenzas, dressers… nothing!”
“Oh oh!” I said, thinking of the gifts from other people sprinkled liberally about my home. “Good thing I’m not a candidate. But then I hate anything sitting in the sink. I emptied too many sinks of smelly dishes as a teenager.”
It’s easy to overlook our own clutter. I entered my house with new eyes after our walk. As I bent down to unlace my runners, I looked at the bottom shelf of a wall unit in the office. It was crammed with 30 or more pairs of shoes. Some of them were stacked three deep – obviously not worn in years. Casual and dressy, most were suitable for island terrain.
‘This shoe pit needs to be shared’ I thought.
I found a large bag and shoe-horned leathery friends past fetish and fear: What if I need this exact pair one day? The operation was surprisingly easy until the unique pair of lime-green, soft suede loafers, worn four times in our rugged terrain had to go into the bag. The left one had always been a tad short.
Once the large bag was filled I tied it quickly. I put it in the back of my car, fighting the temptation to double back and recover.
Over twenty pairs of shoes, all in good shape, rode with me for two weeks. Several times, I drove by the main park where the homeless congregate nightly and drug deals slip through shaking fingers before sunrise. At the crack of noon, when I normally drove by, only our citizenry were there enjoying the harbour playground. I searched for street regulars, but none emerged.
Suddenly, I saw an islander who is a colorful Peter Pan. Many of his friends, gentle and humble, live off the land. He was just hauling his cotton-clad, flowy self into his multi-modelled panel truck of variegated markings.
Opening the passengar door, I said, “Do you know any people who could use some shoes?”
As he rearranged dusty toys “velcroed” to his dash, he said, “Are they quality shoes?”
“Why? Would your friends want to sell them?”
“No, it’s just that my friends have really good taste…” I saw the twinkle in his eye. “Jurgen might be interested. He’s a wardrobe artist.”
As usual, Peter Pan only wanted to play. Jurgen’s grooming habits required considerable attention. “I’ll watch for him!” We both laughed as I closed his truck door.
The weather was turning colder. I decided to follow the suggestion of a friend. I went to a tinier park where the homeless held court during warmer days. I drove there and found no one around. I wrote a message, “Please help yourself to some shoes and give the others away.” I then placed the bag under a pile of stones set up as benches and tables.
Days pass and the homeless are invisible. Hopefully a shelter has been opened, but I’m sorry to pass the empty park regularly and see the untouched bag of shoes under the stonework. Soon I may have to retrieve the bag and take the contents to the Thrift Shop if I can’t find the shelter.
As I wait, I think about sharing. Whether wanting to share Love, life, or shoes, I need to accept that my timing is not always in concert with others! Just because my heart is full of generosity, what I have to give is not always able to be accepted. Sometimes it seems not good enough. Sometimes a recipient isn’t available. Or, maybe the gift has to be given differently.
I watch my walking partner. She knows that sharing may mean sharing a problem and waiting a long stretch without knowing the outcome. She suits up and risks it anyway.
Maybe she needs those suede loafers…
I think that was a lovely gesture and no doubt will the right people wander by someday soon, peer inside, and be overjoyed at their good fortune. What a lovely message to impart as well – we don’t always have to know who benefits from our kindness. It should be enough that we did something to lighten our closets and our souls!
Giving can be such a double-edged sword, SDS. Sometimes it’s really hard to find our unconditional heart. I suspect sharing is a roadmap to the unconditional…
Amy this is lovely. Just as questions remained unanswered, perhaps because we are looking for the wrong answer – sharing may occur based on the timing of the person willing to receive it. I suppose our job is to be ‘on call’ and ready whenever that moment happens.
I like your collections, too!
Careful, Lenore, I may be asking if I can send you some of this collection! 😀
Sometimes clearing out the clutter is so enriching. I am sure those shoes will find homes soon. If I have more clothes and shoes and coats and bags than will fit in two suitcases, (I came with two suitcases five years ago) I start to hurl stuff in the recycling bags.
Of course Daisy does not count, she will have to walk beside the suitcases should my life take a turn again. I do not trust permanence you see. You made me think with this piece of work and thank you for that SoulD c
Yeay Celi…nothing like a Daisy to make you rethink putting on the running shoes~! You may not trust permanence, but you certainly seem to suit those great surroundings and all the activities you share.
Anonymous gift-giving is so blessed. In the Hebrew tradition, tzaddakah (not sure I’ve spelled it right, suggests both the donor and recipient remain unknown to one another.
Hi Victoria. I was taught that if/when I tell anyone of a good deed, it doesn’t count. (I’m not sure who’s keeping track, but I get the point! :D) If any shoes are claimed, I hope the unknown recipient gets double happiness! 😀
Peace and strength to your walking partner, Amy.
And I hope your shoes get adopted by the right pair of feet. 😀
Me too, Nancy. Notice I didn’t even dare think of sending you a pair to cover your bare toes!
Smart thinking! I am barefoot at the moment . . . that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it. 😉
I had a pedicure today and went grocery shopping in my flip flops. Does that count? Considering the temp was close to freezing, give me a bit of a handicap! 😀
Hopeful thoughts go out to both the walking partner and her husband. Hope the shoes are gone today 🙂
Thanks, Cin…when I cruised by after lunch, they were still there. I’ll give them til Friday!
This made me think of the O Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”…a true spirit of giving and sharing…loved the post.
I loved that story, Charles. When I read it as a little girl, I pledged that I would never let such a horrible thing happen! 😀
What a wonderful thought to put the shoes in the park for the homeless I’m sure someone will come along and spread the word
I hope everything works out for your walking partner, but good on her for not putting up with a difficult situation.
I agree with you, Mags…I love knowing that people have the freedom and chutzpah to take a stand.
I really appreciate the honesty behind this post. Not many of us would be able to share a photo of how many shoes we own, but after all your soul searching and coming to the decision to sacrifice some of your shoes the homeless people didn’t want them? Oh man that must hurt!
But I’d imagine having warm dry feet in new shoes is something every homeless person dreams of and perhaps they just haven’t found the bag of shoes. You did say it’s a park used by the homeless in the warmer months, so perhaps you should find out where they hang out in the winter?
I hope your walking partner finds a suitable room mate.
Actually, Rosie, it’s still warm enough in the sunshine for them to sit in that little park. I’ll find out where they are being put up when it is freezing outside. I know who to call…
I hope my walking partner’s husband decides he wants to keep her so he’ll get his life together!
Your beautiful heart is showing! 😀
This post moved me. It also made me think of one of my classic attempts at giving. I was visiting NYC during the holidays. On Christmas Eve my husband and I walked to the Grant Hotel for our holiday meal. Along the way we passed a couple huddled in a doorway with nothing but blankets and ratty sleeping bags. It was a very cold night and I was haunted throughout the meal by visions of these people. After dinner I wadded up a $20 bill (this seemed like a large amount to me at the time) and steered us back toward where the couple had been. Sure enough, they were still there, apparently they were sleeping soundly. Like a thief in the night, I crept up to them and tucked the bill under their bedding and vanished. But afterwards, I felt silly. I wondered if they would find the bill or if someone would roll them for it. I wanted it to be a Christmas morning gift for them to find, but I spent the rest of the evening second guessing myself and wondering why I hadn’t offered to buy them a meal when I walked by earlier rather than this sneaky business.
I am very uneasy with the knowledge that I have been blessed while others have missed the boat completely.
I figure I can thank the homeless because they really bring out my best and my worst. When I want to ignore them, out comes my justifications. When I want to do something, out comes my concern for being duped. When I remember I do not need to worry about judging or outcomes, out comes my money. But my intuition helps in these situations. When it has me by the heart, I know it’s time to give a little.
One man on our island has mental problems. His hair looks like it hosts more snarls than curls and his clothes are filthy. He’s just plain dirty. However, one day he was on my road walking towards town. I took a deep breath and offered a ride. I knew he was horribly uncomfortable in my car so I asked him if he had a favorite radio station that I could put on. We made it into town without silly chitchat that I knew he’d dislike. When he got out of the car, he didn’t say a word – just hopped out and held the door open long enough to look me in the eye. He nodded.
Last week, I was heading for a coffee house and guess who waited for me so he could hold open the door. I nodded. 😀
Life is too short to wear tight shoes…..
Ah, there you are my friend. So succinct…so wise.
i’m sure those shoes will find good homes.
I somehow end up with way more shoes than I wear. (I’m barefoot unless I go outside!) Every year I go through my shoes and if I have not worn them I donate them. I once tried (Hubby’s usggestion which when you hear it will know it came from a man!) to get rid of a pair every time I acquired a pair…this did NOT work for me! I have found soes to be the one thing I hoard. I really think it’s difficult to let go because in third grade I wore these ridiculously ugly ortho brown leather lace up shoes while the little girls wore cute little Mary Janes….too much sharing here? Maybe I should construct this in a post since I obviously have issues on this subject!
I was the kid with the bloomers that popped an elastic in one leg. As we pirouetted through “In My Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown”, on stage for some school performance, gales of laughter were heard from kids of every grade. I was mortified and never wore the dastardly things again.
I sold shoes as a part time job while I went to high school. I’m afraid I have a long and strong bond with footwear!
I’d love to hear the story, SuziCate. I can hear mothers sharing it with young daughters!
Wow. That is an amazing tale about your homeless hitchhiker. You are braver than I! (I would have been fussing about the man’s smell. And just admitting that makes me feel very small and selfish, but it’s the truth.)
Just to clarify, RW, I would not have picked him up if I hadn’t seen him around for some time! Also, our island isn’t large.
A most heartfelt post again Amy…thank you!
Lots of prayer for your walking buddy…a brave choice at any stage in life…pray it all works out in the best possible manner for her!
Am touched at the spontaneity of your generosity, which is a definitive aspect of generosity and convinced it will find its rightful place…what comforts me coming from where I do, is that a bag of shoes like that can lie out in the open like this with no takers…a tribute to a more prosperous society…notwithstanding that the lesser privileged exist in all societies, even well structured and considerate ones!
Shama, no matter where we are, it’s sad that a bag of useable anything would sit untouched when there are homeless people hanging about! A good chunk of our taxes go towards helping those struggling so this seeming ingratitude upsets people. However, it’s easy to forget that many homeless have mental conditions that prevent them from being hire-able.
I believe people who are mentally healthy would pick a job in a warm place rather than sleeping outside or in a shelter!
We have an agency that opens a shelter when the temperature reaches freezing. I’m hoping that is where the homeless went. The shelter is not available during the day so I suspect they’ll go to their old spot when it’s warm and sunny.
Thanks for your prayers, gentle Shama.
Wonderful story and sentiment. I find that clearing out things I don’t need and giving them away is an act of kindness to me and others less fortunate than I am.
I, too, wonder where the homeless go when the weather turns cold. We don’t have shelters in this rural area. What do they do? And we have people with “shelter” but no heat–a sorry form of shelter, indeed. 😐
I have an idea that would be very unpopular…I just know I’d get guffawed out of any city’s Council Meeting. What about letting the homeless bring their pads and belongings into the foyers of office buildings that sit empty all night? There is often no furnishings in those spaces so why not have a spray cleaning system that automatically goes on early in the morning so the place is ready for the day’s activities.
I’m ducking! 😀
I don’t know when last I heard the word “galoot” – ages ago… *chuckles*
Yah, Mish, and spell check even accepted it! 😀 Thanks for coming by.
We are fortunate here that we get calls once a month from so many agencies collecting clothing, household items etc. for those in need. Trucks come right to you house. It makes giving so easy I have no excuse for excess anything in this house! 🙂 In winter I crochet hats and scarves just so I have something to put in the give-away bag.
Your post made me think – what on earth would I do without these people coming from various agencies? I’d drive around like you did I suppose. There is are shelters around though, I’d have to find them. The need is so great “out there” no matter what country, but you are right, sometimes it is hard to give – but simply logistically 🙂
I wish you joyous holidays!
Well, Suzen, you just gave me an idea. We do have boxes stationed in some places (like Banks) where we can drop off jackets, blankets, etc. Why not shoes?
I would love a pick-up service of that nature. Maybe I’ll suggest we have one of the agencies do that – even if it was twice a year!
Oh Amy, I just loved this post! You are so right, the amount of help needed everywhere is overwhelming at times but sharing is going on, at least I can say that for here where I live. As long as each one of us is doing, it helps. May God bless you for giving the homeless man a ride. I think maybe they are worried or embarrassed that they do not meet what they think is our standards. In a way they judge us as well. I love that he waited and held the door for you, he has decided that you are an ok person in his books. Don’t you just love how that makes you feel inside.
I have your neighbor and her husband in my prayers, hopefully he will have the strength to want to overcome this addiction, and save their relationship.
I hope the hubby decides to give himself the gift of a lifetime…history with a person he loves. Alcohol will steal that from him if he so chooses.
Wow, Amy. This is beautifully done. I love the subject and it’s too true. We need to be ready to share and others need to be ready to take what we have to share. It’s rather like raising a child, isn’t it? Sometimes you know he needs something you have, but you have to wait until the right time to share it. Time is everything.
I love you elephant.
I’ve being able to come visit.
Thank you for your thoughts. Sharing does mean sharing good and bad. But we always need to look out for those who could be helped by our sharing. You write so heartfelt and eloquent about the subject.
Hi Otto…it takes a heart to recognize another! The insights you share about photography portray great generosity. I really enjoy your posts. Hope you are having a good rest over the Christmas Season.
I hope you will enjoy the holidays too. May peace be with you.
Lovely post Amy – clearing the clutter on so many levels and becoming more comfortable with the unanswered questions.
I’ve resisted gathering and hording. I think that’s why I keep stuff out front and on display. It helps me remember I have way more than I need. We really do have such an imbalance on the planet. (Don’t get me going on landfills!)
Thoughts of comfort to your brave friend and blessings in your generosity. Hopefully some one will want them. Sounds like a plot for a Disney story!! (the homeless shoes I mean)
LOL! Great idea, Chris…Leathered Homelessness 😀
Kinda difficult to sort through and surrender the clutter in our lives–be that an alcoholic spouse or a bag of shoes, huh?
I feel for your friend. It’s a hard choice to make. I’ll pray for her and for her husband. Both have difficult times ahead.
I struggle with telling on myself when I’ve done one of those random things that’s just ‘the right thing to do’. But I know how it works for me–I have a closet of clothes that I’m JUST never going to fit into again. Better to de-clutter.
See how that works? 😉
It is difficult, Mel. And when we do sort through life with a partner, we’re often in the worst shape to make decisions. That’s why I’m amazed that she had such clarity and determination. One has to love deeply to risk losing the partner in order to truly help. Dang! I wonder if he’ll ever see that!
Thank you, Amy. I wonder how many people are dealing with “patience” concerning their circumstances at this moment? …”maybe the gift has to be given differently” I’m tucking that into my heart today and going to try to remember it when I need it. Thank you.
Sometimes, it’s just a shift in the heart that makes a huge difference. I’ll keep working on it, too, Leslie.
My mother got fed up with all the clutter of clothes and shoes my 2 sisters left when they migrated to the US. She set up a garage sale and sold pretty good.
Funny about sharing like you mentioned, whenever I have and want to give things or alms away, I can’t find someone to give it to.
I hope you update us about what happens to your giveaways Amy.
To make up for the lack of interest in my shoes, I made some Christmas snacks that we call “nuts and bolts” with some awesome seasonings and herbs. Those are being accepted with far more interest than the shoes! 😀
Lovely. This reminds me I should give careful thought to how I give: I should target my efforts. It helps to identify precisely what a problem is and use accurate focus so we give just what is needed. Thanks for this, Amy 🙂
Good plan, Kate – one that could be adopted by many of us. One that could be adopted by nations!
As I read this again, I enjoyed the layers in the post: the wisdom to draw the proverbial line in the sand (hope your friend and her husband are doing well), the need to clear and the sense to shed, the abiity to share and the timing and appropriateness of doing so. Nice! Thank you.
It is all woven together – you’ve summarized it beautifully. My friend will be contacting me after Christmas…well, maybe well after. She has to help with a new grandchild. The shoes? I had to retrieve the bag and took the shoes to a Thrift Shop where the profit goes to support our hospital. I don’t understand…some of those shoes were summery, but most were fashionably sturdy. However, I learn things about the homeless that astound me – not because of them, but because I am so unaware of the conditions that take priority with them. So, I accept. I’m glad they can help the Hospital.