“I just got my license renewed, after waiting in line for hours,” he stated. He then sat back and smoked his cigarette.
“Good morning neighbor, hello friends,” he said as people passed by failing to notice him or to listen to his music.
Despite the blind tourist, he continued to play, “One love, one heart Let's get together and feel all right...”
His message was simple, yet too complex for the outside world to grasp. Everything from his songs of coming together to his note that was taped to his guitar that read, “Restore the Black Community,” he was all about coming together.
In his old and worn guitar case river rocks held three dollars down that some had carefully placed. The case like his guitar, appeared to have seen better days. Regardless, it held the musical instrument just right and the guitar itself told a story only he knows and remembers.
His name of Yehoshua is often spelled Jehoshua. If you look deeper you will see that even his name has a message.
Jehoshua was a figure in the Jewish Torah and also the central person referred to in the Book of Joshua.
In the Book of Joshua, he gives a speech about what must be done for Israel to live in peace. God commissioned Joshua to take possession of the land and warned him to keep not only faith, but outlined the need for obedience to the law.
Empty, abandoned, deserted or vacant are all similar in so many ways... They are all alone or without any.
Jon Krakauer, author of "Into the Wild" wrote about the detriment of loneliness based on the last days of life for a man named Christopher McCandless who ceased all communication with friends in 1990 after college graduation.
McCandless went on an Alaskan journey where he lived on his own, alone. He lived for 112 days in an abandoned bus before dying.
“Happiness is only real when shared." - Christopher McCandless
To feel that way or to be in that place is to be without the help of others. It is a humbling experience that some pick while others are forced to receive due to the circumstances of life.
However you arrived at the empty place, you should not make an effort at staying at that location as it will only equal more loneliness.
An article in Psychology Today suggested that being lonely can equal real physical pain. The article stated:
“In one experiment, the use of Tylenol lessened the aches of loneliness. With a dose of acetaminophen, scans of lonely individuals showed reduced activity in pain-processing areas of the brain. In addition, loneliness heightens the fight-or-flight response—a physiological reaction when a person faces harm or danger. This heightened response can make a person irritable, even angry. The sense of threat may feed a detrimental cycle of isolation and disconnection.”
Photo: Abandoned motel on the back roads to Florida.
A Rutherford County, TN Judge did something a little different last Friday afternoon...
Judge Barry Tidwell held a Mental Health Court Graduation outdoors at a homeless camp in Murfreesboro. A man by the name of Thomas graduated after a lengthy, yet successful completion of the courses offered by the Rutherford County Judicial System.
Thomas became homeless after his mother died a few years ago. Apparently, her home was foreclosed on and he was pushed to the streets.
Despite living in the woods, Thomas made his campsite as nice as possible by adding landscaping, a rock path, plants deliberately placed and more. His camp was welcoming and clean.
“Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life.” - Joel Osteen
Some of the people I see on the streets of Nashville - I have seen year after year. It is interesting how time slips their mind, sadly.
Asking how long she has been on the streets she replied, “About two years.”
Looking back, the first photo I took of her on the street was around 5 years prior near Centennial Park. This most recent picture was captured near the hospital district of downtown.
At age 64 she has never found that one time love of her life that makes you feel like dancing in the rain. She has never been married and has never had children. She simply survives while fighting diabetes.
“I’ve dreamed a lot. I’m tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming. No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake. In dreams I have achieved everything.” ― Fernando Pessoa
The sun falling on downtown Havana showed the true Cuban dream of success had washed away into the Caribbean years ago. An area that was alive with music, families and more in the 1940's and 50's is decaying as if it was struck by a curse in 2000's.Read More
Taxi drivers in Cuba are the most open when they talk about the dream of travel. Why? Because they meet travelers from around the world daily.Read More
Every once in a while I came across that picture perfect setting that highlighted what Havana, Cuba once looked like in the 1940's.Read More
Cuba at 9:30 PM Eastern Time: The capital of Havana is only a whisper outside on a Thursday night, other than a few passing cars. As you walk into one of the many apartment buildings you hear kids playing in one unit and as you continue down the florescent lit hallway, you hear the sound of a small yelping dog.Read More
I always find it so intriguing how others have all the answers on what to do, right from wrong, how you should feel vs. how you really feel, etc. I wonder how so many people know so much about others?
He was standing quietly against a wall of windows, barely audible as he asked those who smirked past him, “Do you have any change?” I failed to see even one person stop to simply ask why he needed the money.
If anyone did ask, they would learn the elderly gentleman has a place to stay, but his entire social security check went to the monthly cost. He had no money to eat. It was that simple... money to eat.
If you asked a passerby one might state, “That's what his food stamp or EBT card is for.” Then, the senior citizen might reply, “But, $15 is not enough to eat more than four meals on - if I shop for the most valuable deals.” Of course, that is only if he has a card.
It is to easy to assume you have the answers to the problems, the life obstacles, the aliments or the cures for another until you live their life both the past and the present. But, make sure you are able to stomach their past.
Perhaps you have seen Thomas Bauguess outside between Walmart and the Stones River Mall in Murfreesboro, TN. He sits on a small bucket with two prosthetic legs.
Thomas who is homeless, says that he lost his legs in Iraq while working as a contractor for the government and because he was not actually in the military, he does not receive help from the VA. Instead, he receives a basic disability check. However, the check is not enough to receive approval for an apartment or trailer.
Some have made fun of Thomas suggesting that he goes home each night to a well-lit house.
One person even made a video of him waking up in the morning. That video was then placed on Facebook where multiple persons made comments that hurt both Thomas and his wife.
Thomas owns two trucks that were given to him after his aunt passed away. While the trucks maybe a distraction for those passing by, Thomas calls them a blessing because he is able to sleep in them to stay warm.
Right now, Thomas and his wife simply need a rental home or apartment. That being said, if someone is willing to rent to them he says that he will not have any problem making the monthly payment and he will be an excellent tenant.
Photo of “The Eagle” on sacred Indian Land in the Grand Canyon. By the way, I did not take this photo from the glass Skywalk as you will notice towards the end of this piece.
On my visit to the Grand Canyon Glass Skywalk, I noticed multiple Native Americans working at the ticket booth, the parking lot, in the gift shop and taking photographs for families on the actual skywalk. I wondered why, other than the logical explanation that I was surrounded by tribal land. But, I figured there was more to the story.
As recent as 2012, Native Americans have had issues with the Grand Canyon being used for different purposes. But this issue may have been placed in a negative light due to one tribe in the area.
The Skywalk is built on the lip of the Grand Canyon and juts out over the Colorado River. The land where it was built is on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Arizona. The walk was built under a contract that the Hualapai Council agreed upon with a Las Vegas developer who funded the costly venture.
In 2012 the Hualapai Nation overtook the development company responsible for overseeing the skywalk. The company had a contract in place that did not expire until year 2037, according to an article in Reuters newspaper on March 19, 2012.
Evidently, the Hualapai Nation saw that the Skywalk had potential to keep their families alive and healthy as there is a hefty charge for tourist to walk onto the glass walkway. But, they did not agree with the management or development company and claimed a breach of contract.
5 Years ago, the Native Americans took over or seized the skywalk with the idea of putting their tribe members to work. Of course the original agreement showed that the tribe commissioned the project with an agreement to let the developer run it. After all, the Skywalk is built on land belonging to an Indian tribe while a developer is the one who came in and built the $30-million structure… under contract.
In 2013 a U.S. District Judge ruled that the Hualapai Tribe owed the developer from Las Vegas $28.6 million, according to the USA Today. The judgement came as a result of a contract that was signed with the tribe in 2003. The tribe contended that the developer did not abide by that 2003 contract, which is why they took over the management. The Judge did not see it that way.
The Hualapai tribe consists of 2,000 residents and a 50% jobless rate. Other problems that plague the tribe are reported to be widespread problems with alcohol. Plus, some members view the Skywalk as disturbing because it is built on sacred grounds.
Today, the Hualapai tribe operates the Skywalk. However, they must pay the developer of the project instead of the original contract which had the developer paying them.
As for making that walk onto the Skywalk, you have to pay to ride a bus about 2 miles down a paved road to the site. Then, you have to buy a ticket to make the walk. If you want a photo while on the walkway you have to pay for that as well because cameras are not allowed. The price to walk the walk… About $85 per person.
A Camera is a No-No: If you think you can sneak a camera or cellphone onto the walkway, you are wrong. I tried. You go through a metal detector first, which you can get through with a GoPro, but then you are frisked.
Now you know the rest of the story. Or at least a few more details.
This photo is the most recent in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center “Hand Project.” The goal is to show the wicked face of domestic violence without actually showing the face of those who suffered.
This woman, who is 53 today, talked about her ex and the violence and torment he caused in a way that would make one vomit. At one point, he broke her ankle so that she could not run from him. When her left ankle finally healed, he broke her right ankle.
To hear a short clip of her story, listen to the audio below:
She said that she moved to Tennessee to oversee the care of her brother who was hit by a car in Nashville, TN. She stayed with him at his apartment up until he was kicked out after a loss of income.
Today, he is in a wheelchair and she remains by her brothers’ side to care for him – both homeless.
“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching -- they are your family. ” ― Jim Butcher, American author
Bone Chilling Cold: “You have to know how to survive in this weather,” he told me. I asked, “What do you need besides a sleeping bag?” He looked down and then responded, “I recently got out of prison and they took my ID, Social Security Card – things get lost in there – but I need those things.”
The temperature outside was 16 degrees with a wind chill of 3 degrees that afternoon. By nightfall, the temperature had fallen to 12 degrees and expected to hit 7 degrees by morning with a morning wind chill of -1 degree by 6AM in Nashville, TN.
The lowest temperature in recorded history for Nashville occurred on January 21, 1985. It was -17 degrees. Looking back to January 12, 1918, the daily high was at 2 degrees.
“Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don't have the strength to fight it.” ― George R.R. Martin
He sat quietly holding a sign and if anyone handed him anything, he would politely thank them. As we talked it was obvious that he was well spoken as he told me about two young ladies who stopped and gave him blankets to use for a warm night’s sleep.
“I want to get to Florida,” he told me with a stutter. “I got off the bus in Murfreesboro, but I need to get to Interstate 75,” he explained.
He then described how he has worked all of his life at day labor companies suggesting, “Because I like to travel.” A social security check is deposited into his account each month, but he does not have an ATM card or checks. “I will set all of that up when I get to Florida,” talking about how he wants to find somewhere to live where he will be warmer.
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” - Matsuo Basho, Japanese Poet (1644-1694)
“Do not avert your eyes.
It is important
that you see this.
It is important that you feel
this.” ― Kamand Kojouri, writer
A photo of faith, humanity and mankind... living on the streets.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” — Saint Francis of Assisi
When you are homeless, it is easy to get knocked down. Most recently, he said that his hours were cut at the bar where he works in Nashville.
"Tough times never last, but tough people do." - Robert H. Schuller
He has been on the streets for about 8 years. He said that his mother told him when he turned 18 he is out of here and on his own, which he has been.
Outgoing, kind and spirited are the words I would use to describe his personality. He was excited to be alive, despite his circumstances.
Jobs come and go and don’t mean much to many people on the street. It is a way to make enough money to get to the next chapter, not something that defines us. However, his most recent job earned him enough money to buy warm weather gear from Bass Pro Shops, which he is wearing in this photo. That is a good thing because recently, he has been without a sleeping bag or tent.
His home was a metal bench in downtown Nashville. He had a backpack of clothing and personal possessions. But, that changed on Thanksgiving Day.
Now, he has a tent and a sleeping bag that will greet the temperatures this winter without an issue. It also means he will be able to visit the downtown library during the day because he can leave his backpack in his tent. What some may not realize, the downtown library now limits what size of bag you can bring in and his backpack broke that rule as he had a hiking backpack.
“There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.” - William Barclay, Scottish Author, (1907-1978)