As a writer I am often reminded of one of my heroes, the philosopher Eric Hoffer. Hoffer is one of the best-selling American philosophers with his book “The True Believer.”
Hoffer himself was a well read school dropout who worked as a dock hand in San Francisco.
He chose to live his life with a monastic focus, renting rooms that were halfway between the library and less reputable establishments.
Maybe monastic is not the best description, but he lived a life dedicated to his research and his writing.
In the mornings, riding the bus, I sometimes wonder what amazing things do these people get up to? How many work ordinary jobs and have amazing passions?
Take Bernard Davey for instance. Busker and guitarist Jonny Walker reports that Davey was someone he had often seen when he was out on the street performing and had watched over the years as Davey aged and his health worsened.
When Davey approached Walker and asked if he could sing, Walker thought nothing of it — until Davey’s mouth opened. Walker was so blown away by Davey’s voice he stopped a passerby and asked him to record.
There is a lot going on in that video — that voice which should be legendary, Walker and his joy at playing with such a singer, the gasps of appreciative onlookers, and those passerby who are oblivious to the whole thing.
Davey wasn’t just a homeless man with a golden voice. His wheelchair and state in life hid an impressive backstory.
He was a father of two, he was once a fixture on the Irish folk music scene, and he had been a cast member of the TV series Harry’s Game.
We often become numb to the wonder and gifts of the people around us.
I wonder how many homeless folks we have walked past never even noticing who and what they are?
We can all make a difference through our time, talents, and treasure.
The first step to eradicating homelessness is to become aware of the folks around us and then meet people’s needs and eliminate the systemic causes.
Bernard Davey passes away last year. This Christmas as we hear his story again let’s remember to pay attention to our friends on the street.
They just might surprise us.
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