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River People

I never really understood it before, but to live in Sacramento is to be surrounded by water.  That may sound ludicrous, but I have lived here most of my life, spent a lot of time by the water, but not until I saw more of the world did I understand how much water is a part of where I grew up.  The water around here either collects or seeps or flows into our space, and can be seen all around town and really anywhere in the region.  So I like water, I like spending time by it.  Even when I am out in a high desert, I will find water to be near.  Here in town, I will spend a lot of time by the water on a bicycle, fishing, or just standing.

Lately, as I have been bicycle commuting, I have noticed the River People.  They will be walking along the trails or standing by camps, smelling of smoke and maybe a little dirt.  You may have guessed by now I am talking about the homeless people that populate the riverside in Sacramento.  To see them is to feel maybe fear, disgust, or envy.  The fear can be either fear of them or fear that someday you may be one of them if economic factors will make you lose everything but your life.  The disgust can be that you think they may be lazy, dirty, laden with alcohol, drug, or behavioral problems, but I sometimes feel disgust that our world can create people like the river people.  The envy is that they may not have many worries about jobs, rent, bills, social disgrace, health, and the million things that can make us crazy.  Their worries are probably different than mine.

I am not going to offer a solution, I will only offer observation.  I often think how a lot of people were without a permanent address, wandering and living in tents, huts, sheds, or out in the stars, in times past before we developed the need for permanence.  I wondered if those people were happy?  Do all the things we have make us happy?

This story is one of trying to feel compassion that can overcome all the other feelings.  That would be my own goal in writing this down and contemplating what I have written.  Take what you will, and I apologize if I offend some people.  I am only trying to understand and maybe absorb some lesson from what I see.  Happy.



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