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Seeing People For Who They Truly Are

The three men sat and watched me, as they often did, seeking me out.

They sat respectfully; sometimes at a distance sometimes they’d break my dance with a shout out, one beer the richer into their day, ‘looking good sweetheart’. At times called vagrants, junkies or losers, on the mouths or in the minds of those they saw, and probably they believed that themselves. Homeless. No roof to call their own, or to share with others, sleeping rough, taking violence as a matter of course.

But they are often there, in passing with smiles and waves, and sometimes dance with me or speak with me about dance or life and they ask for nothing more.

They seem to appreciate the graceful moves the best, the times when I am listening to classical music or moving in meditative motion, they can sit for some time, perfectly still.

And it comes to me, how many experiences might they have where they are able to be themselves without the baggage? When might they interact with ‘regular folks’ without the stigma of ‘being homeless’? In the same way when I worked with the girls at the orphanage in Sri Lanka, I never thought (when dancing) ‘Oh you poor girls’, but ‘how beautiful you are’. How important that is.

Each of us has our ‘coat’ we wear, we might think that defines us – those questions that clutter our statistical forms, what colour we are, what our income is, do we have a religion, do we have any disability, what is our gender, are we gay or straight, how healthy are we, how many years we’ve lived… and whilst there are times when highlighting an inequity related to things is extremely important, we must also strive to create experiences where we can just BE with one another without the tags.

It can be difficult for many to see beyond the label.

I’ve taken to not asking what ‘people do for a living’, but rather ‘what makes you happy’?

This has proven to be both disconcerting (for those I ask) and enlightening both.

So for me, and for those men who watch, and for the hundreds who pass through my life, this is how it is. And so we are able to see each other for who we really are and life is sweet.

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