This is not the case today.
On Sunday I worked the overnight shift at a homeless shelter sponsored by the church that my family and I go to. We had 38 guests and while there were a few folks that fit the stereotype of "homeless person", I was humbled to be reminded of how many of these folks are just like all of us but for having a spot of bad luck that spiraled out of control. I was certainly very thankful that I could help these folks out with a place to sleep and a meal, but it got me thinking about how close any of us are to this situation. I know that all it would take for me is a couple of missed paychecks before I would have to make some SERIOUS choices about what I could do without. As some of the current news in the jazz world reminds us, artists are generally not looked at as a necessity and the economic reality is that many who slave over craft and make huge art live hand to mouth. I am lucky and thankful everyday to have a day job that both takes care of me and my family very well and is often very personally and professionally satisfying. I will admit to having taken that for granted as I look around my living room and see the very high stacks of books, records, and CDs that we have amassed.
Working the shelter was a wonderful, humbling experience that has made me more mindful of both how incredibly lucky I am and how things are so impermanent.
This is one of my favorite Buddhist passages:
Just like a dream experience,
Whatever things I enjoy
Will become a memory.
Whatever has passed will not be seen again.
I didn't sleep much Sunday night, not because of the work or the discomfort of being away from my own bed, but because I sat in awe of how much courage, compassion, warmth, and love I felt at this shelter from both the volunteers and the guests.