Three nights and four days of surrender to living aimlessly on the streets on New York last October brings vivid memories of coldness, wetness, and tiredness. There were many things that separated me from those who truly live on the streets. I believe the main difference is community. There were thirteen of us, and I had many heart-warming experiences with my fellow street walkers. Unlike us, the individuals I met in the shelters were alone, isolated, lifeless, and appeared to be depressed. Our group had entrepreneurship—Hugh being our most enthused bottle collector, and Bokushu being an impassioned beggar ("fund-raiser"). We had one another. We had love. No amount of free food and clothing can fill up the bottomless pit of isolation and disconnectedness. Enkyo Roshi was a delight to be with, and Genro Sensei made us feel safe. This was my third street retreat: all cold, wet, and tired. And, yes, I would recommend for those who are able and willing to bear witness to living, at least for a very short while, with a lot less.
Photo: A. Jesse Jiryu Davis