Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We're not talking homelessness here

That’s something very different and very sad. Homelessness is about having no choices. As young, penniless backpackers we were always making choices. There were times when paying for a night’s accommodation was simply wonderful – even if it did involve selling a good watch or a pair of walking boots. Often, renting a room came after having a bad feeling about a place. Perhaps I’d arrived late, well after dark, and safe didn’t seem realistic. It was just a feeling, and maybe it meant nothing. Just peace of mind. A sense of well-being based on choice, not confinement.

If you believe a person does not have a right to sleep unless he has paid for a room, this book is not for you. If you believe that only a person who owns a mountain has a right to sleep there, this book is not for you. Those who think that way are not selfish. They’re frightened. Worried that we sleepers might want to hurt or steal from them. They are wrong. Sleepers are static ships of the night. They are just regular people: climbers, cyclers, travellers and walkers. They pitch up after dark when everyone else has gone home. Not just hidden from view, but hidden from the public consciousness. Invisible aliens crossing over the landscape by day, hanging from hammocks in trees, or bivvying down under bushes by night. We are free to join them; only held back by the false claims that we’re committing a crime or doing something that’s very bad. Fenced in by the fear and ignorance we grew into when we left childhood and adolescence.