There's a story about a beggar who's sitting on the side of a road. The old man has been on the road for years. A stranger approaches one afternoon. "Spare some change?" mumbles the beggar, mechanically shaking his tin cup.
"I have nothing to give you," the stranger said. The beggar turned away in disgust. Then the stranger asked, "What is that you're sitting on?"
"Nothing," the beggar told him. "Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember."
"Ever looked inside?" asked the stranger.
"Why?" the beggar replied. "What's the point? There's nothing in there."
The stranger insisted, "Have a look inside." The beggar refused at first—then finally decided to pry the lid open. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.
Have you ever walked or driven past a beggar? Most of the time, a disabled man or a woman with a baby on her back and a little hope in their empty hands that their circumstances will trigger a kind of cathartic experience that sends you digging into your pockets, bags and cup holders for loose change.
You watch as they wire together a wild animal with their feet or draw your portrait. This is all very inspiring, especially to a person who can’t give straight lines to a stick figure. Anyone desperate enough would do just about anything to survive, even if they didn't have the arms to hold out for alms. You thought to yourself, “How did you get yourself in that situation,” “When did it happen,” "How did it happen,” “Does it still hurt…"
It is a reality of the unemployed, homeless and hopeless.
It’s an ache.
They're beggars, brimming with nothing.
Yet, hopeful for everything.
A new meaning to the expression “street wise” recently dawned on me when I sat in traffic ignoring a beggar who knocked insistently, on my window. I began wondering now what really gets man up to stand at a traffic light, knock on windows, gesturing hunger and its pangs. What was the force that drove a man to go out, pick the busiest spot, usually traffic or a place of worship since the crowd is known to be generous right after a heartfelt conversation with God in appreciation and or repentance. I decided it was best to quit the questions and leave the subject with the simple reasoning that it wasn't any of my business and more comforting, I wasn't the one knocking on windows.
Still, I wondered how much courage it took to walk along a road, while an audience witnesses your poverty and now and then get rejected for it. Did fear play a role in the emotional equation? Again, I decided it was best to quit the questions and leave the subject with the simple reasoning that it wasn't any of my business and more comforting, I wasn't the one knocking on windows.
I don't need to beg. What a relief. I have no worries about my next meal, I have a lifestyle that affords me three sets of clothing a day—gym, jeans and pajamas —also how I dress to mindlessly consume content off the television that is off very little value. I open the fridge door more times than there are numbers on a clock, but if I ever feel like the world is starting to get to me, I can always turn off my social life and ignore the people I live with because it is often the case that the more you have, the less free you feel, and I need space.
Then why did I feel like my life wasn't full enough? I felt like a nobody. I felt nothing. My life felt empty, like the belly of a beggar, my home within was furnished with failure, fear and foolishness. It was at this moment, a reflection of myself became clear when a beggar stood in front of me. My few years of thorough introspection made me realize just how wrong certain ways of thinking are. There are beggars and then there are big risk takers.
I am a beggar.
Simply put, a beggar is one who lives off what he is given, spared. Begging is a play on emotions, not just others but your own too, because you're not really asking for something to eat or something to wear, instead you're really just asking the other person to feed your victim mentality, satisfy a hunger for dependency, sympathy and pity. To beg is to expect others to drop things in our hands and we’ll watch as our lives and everything we’ve dreamed of will fall into place. Beggar mentality is created by a fading sense of responsibility your life and or circumstance repeatedly choosing not to move in the direction of what they want that has caused their inability to achieve.
The Big Risk Takers work their toes off to create, innovate and achieve something for themselves aren't really begging. They have the courage to ask for what they want, what they need and then go out to get it. They may look helpless and hopeless, which lessens with each passing day but they don't give up. They’re waiting for a window to open, with a hand stretched out with a couple of lucky charms. This is the window of opportunity.
I realized my mistakes all these years. Like a beggar, I was taking no responsibility for my life or the direction in which my life was headed. No wonder life felt empty. I was living off what I was given, not what I created for myself. Or perhaps, I was making excuses for the reasons it wouldn’t or will never work. How long was I to entertain the fact that I may be wrong or mistaken?
In my years of self-discovery, I have always thought it a sacred time when my spiritual insight revealed itself and enhanced my spirituality—our lives are such that we beg for what is already within us.
We are gifted with a finite amount of life and it’s filled with countless options. Love, pain, fear, hope, joy, wealth, health, wisdom, solitude, status, loneliness, wonder, happiness, tears, gratitude, ingratitude. It is what we do with what we choose from this box of treasures.
However, we tend to blind ourselves to truth, reason and logic. Everything we do requires an exchange. Our whole lives are constantly in a cycle of exchange. In order to get something, we must give something. To buy a car, we exchange money. To gain knowledge, we give our time and dedication. To earn a living, we offer a service. To find the right one, you must let go of the wrong one. We live in a world where both options are available to us, the difference is what we choose to experience. Because like that beggar, we’re sitting on a treasure chest, thinking we have nothing. We need only stop focusing on what is going on around us and take a look within, we’ll realize everything we’ve ever wanted, truly wanted is already within our possession.
I felt an urgency of moving into a state of belief that all I desire really will appear before my eyes when I am in the right inner space. I’ve come to take these lessons as the greatest i’ve learned in my life, simply because it led to experiencing the magic of living a spiritual life.
Two things that a beggar taught me:
1. Look within, you’ll find your own hunger.
2. Look deeper, you’ll realize that you have a treasure box of infinite possibilities.
If there is something I want out of life, it will demand a change in my behavior my habits, especially the negative and self sabotaging ones. But, my fearful self always reminds me of the thousand fist steps I almost took. It’s that first step that is the hardest. With everything precious in my life, I took care of what I loved, what held value, what meant something to me. Somethings are just too precious for words. Like I nurtured parts of my life, I realized I nurtured my fear too. I took care of it, feeding it reasons as to why things wont work out, it was always the first things I felt when I thought of making my dreams happen for me. That fear has always been enough to keep me from taking on the open road to what my heart truly desires.
But all that is about to change.