Strength and Limitation


“We build from strength and Limitation.” ~Brian Eno on working with U2.

On the one hand I have been a juggernaut as of late – unstoppable and fearless. And I am the sort of person who is very fearful until I am not – and then lookout.

I used to be afraid of women – until I wasn’t. Now when I meet up with them I am rarely nervous, even if I am living in a shelter, and have $37 to my name. I know what is important and I know what I have to offer. I also know that I have the capacity to make a great deal of money in a hurry IF I can get over my fear in that arena.

But like planning a cross-country trip…you can wannabe on New York, but you cannot get there till you get there.

I used to be afraid of physical violence – until I wasn’t. Now when there is a possible conflict and I have to step in with non-violence (which takes a lot more guts than stepping in with violence by the way) I am not afraid – not even of weaponry – not guns or knives; or at least not to date.

And everyone has always walked away (or ran way) safe.

Stories are numerous, but locally in the downtown Safeway I was seven aisles over when I heard two guys threatening to fight. Surely security would toss them I reasoned.

I got closer and closer as I shopped and yet they were still yelling and threatening each other over a girl.

Soon I turned down their aisle and they had each other by the shirts and one guy had his arm cocked back like a cross-bow ready to strike. I shook my head and abandoned my cart in a steady but deliberate walk directly towards them. I did not yell, but I was not quiet either. It as measured as was my gate. I commanded “Both of you are leaving now!” The one guy at a disadvantage had already seen me but the other guy turned ready to take me on too until he saw what was steadily bearing down on him about 25 feet away at a steady pace.

His eyes went wide and they fled.

See nobody has to KNOW that I am non-violent necessarily. If I had actually gotten there I would have changed posture and talked with them and negotiated.

The guy with the gun in my face in SF was different. But 6 minutes later we were ear to ear and he was praying with me and then I walked off into the cold drizzly night.


That strength comes from God, not me. I am not religious – and you cannot teach this stuff. It’s Jedi stuff. I listen and I get direction in those moments. Everything SLOWS down and I notice the guy with the gun has a palsy in his hands – that he is jonesing – he needs a 20 oz. , prayer and encouragement to detox safely . He needs someone to give a shit.

I give a shit.

I tell him to put the gun away and he does. I get him two beers, one for now to steady him and keep him from possible seizure (and robbing someone else), I put  the other in his coat pocket for later.

He listens to me because I look him in the eye an I care and you cannot fake that. Not after you have stuck a 45 in a man’s face and he shows no fear.


But there is limitation.

I am over my fear of getting a good job and pursuing work. I am not sure where it came from but lately I have been utterly fearless. I feel the first company that interviews me will hire me on the spot. I feel that confident. And I feel I will advance quickly.

I hope it is this law firm that is looking for a researcher because I would be a natural to promote and train as a paralegal (and pay to have trained and shooled at it and they make excellent money).

But while I am doing this one of my brothers from the shelter IM’s me and is out of food and is working till very late – all day without food. I am HAMSTRUNG. I have my food stamp card so food is no problem, but transport is because I am taped out. In fact I need to get out to my storage to take pictures of some things I am trying to sell on eBay to get some much needed cash flow.

I can’t MOVE.

I had asked local church leaders for a small amount of money for such situation. Nothing doing. They are of the “you can only do one thing at a time” mentality. Yeah..well that was my plan too if you will all remember. God had other plans.

But I cannot allow myself to get mad about it. I need those guys – not for me – but for the folk at the shelter. If anyone is going to come through for them in the future and actually pioneer REAL SERVICES to transition people out of homelessness it is going to be the churches of this area. The City, the Shelter itself? Not gonna do a THING.

The reality is it is just one step away from incarceration. It is not meant to help anyone at all – just keep tabs on them. That’s the truth.

I asked one of the head guys the other day “So what kind of jobs programs or initatives do you guys have here?”


Meanwhile they have put up this huge gate that will lock everyone in at night and others out. They are beefing up security (does this sound familiar?)

Less services, more security and staff.

It will be up to the Church IMO.

But the churches will not listen to me until I am out of here. Sad but true. Myopia.

Until then (and no self-pity at all – I am happy to be here – It is important) I build from strength and limitation.

Now I have to get back. I gotta guy who has a story to tell me – his life. And that is damned important.





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