“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.
Meet Amzie Adams. He is well known in the French Quarter where he is often seen wearing some of the craziest, hippest, strangest outfits all decked with a top hat. He has been a part of the New Orleans landscape since 1964.
Adams, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, is much deeper than his outward appearance. He is a musician who has rubbed elbows with some of the greats over the years as they made their trek through Louisiana. But, his passion for the arts doesn’t stop at music.
His talents continue into story telling with a focus on the positive. It’s a must to find Amzie for a conversation or one of his fascinating stories that involves the slaying of a dragon or perhaps rescuing a princess?
Music and stories aside, painting is what Adams does best. His artwork is well known across the globe. A simple Google search of his name followed by the word “Paint” will introduce you to a maze of color that focuses on the Crescent City.
Never judge others by their outward appearances…
“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Have you got a few dollars so I can get something to eat,” he asked. I think he was a bit surprised when I responded with, “Where are you from because you look as if you are African.” I followed my question with a slight laugh as he looked at me and said, “I moved here from the Islands.” With that statement, I think I broke the ice to ask more questions as he had never been asked such.
As we talked, he said that life on the streets of New Orleans was filled with crime. He mentioned that he has witnessed murders, drug deals and more.
The crime rate in New Orleans is 95% higher than the national average. If you sample only violent crimes, the rate is 193% higher in New Orleans than the national average.
During our brief exchange a passerby heard him mention a need for food and invited him to head to a nearby church for lunch.
I read an interesting quote today that stated, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” - Augustine "Og" Mandino II, American author. He wrote the bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World (1923-1996).
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
Today, by the time a child is a senior in high school, 70% have already tried alcohol. 50% will have tried some type of an illegal drug. 40% have smoked tobacco or used a nicotine product. 20% of children will have used a prescription drug for a nonprescription use. Despite these numbers, we look at the broken who live on the street with discourse in thinking, "They choose their addiction which landed them on the street." The relation to childhood drug or alcohol use to adult addiction is overwhelming.
The environment around a teen greatly impacts teenagers choosing to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Violence, physical abuse, sex abuse, emotional abuse all play a role in the temptation of alcohol and drug use. Personality traits such as ADD and ADHD also increase the likelihood of a child trying something that will have a negative impact on them.
If a child experiences trauma at a young age and / or becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, it will change the growth pattern of the prefrontal cortex. That said, the impact will last a life time. Addiction can soon set in and life is forever changed.
The other side of addiction:
On top of the above information, addiction equals a lack of human “meaningful” interaction. In other words, the addicted may interact with other users, but at a very surface level while clean or sober.
Furthermore, the addicted man or woman who lives on the street usually has zero healthy relationships nor knows how to form one while addicted.
So, could adult addiction be a combination of child trauma, lack of relationship? My thought would be yes.
Why? The damaged prefrontal cortex, that was damaged in childhood, is the planning region of the brain. It is where personality and expression originate from. Most importantly for continued use of negative behaviors, the prefrontal area is where decision making takes place along with moderating social behavior.
Knowing how sections of the brain function further verifies that addiction and lack of social interaction and healthy relationships go hand in hand. Especially when you dive into damage to the brain caused by childhood trauma followed by alcohol or drug use.
Many on the street do not know how to have positive connections with other human life. More so, their brain does not know how to cope with life without medicated help. The addicted brain related to childhood trauma does not know how to navigate behavior and life.
Of course, it is much deeper than my above words once you mix in mental illness and depression. That is an entire book on information.
She sat alone inside a small city bus shelter too timid to use the bench. It was as if she had been told one thousand times before to not sit on the bench, it was for "riders."
As she tried to talk she could not stay awake. In between words she would fall asleep, never completing a sentence.
The Bible remained open as she lacked the strength to turn the pages.
If you like to argue and get nowhere, then search out this fella in Washington DC. He is parked inside his tent of humanity across from the White House. You may even agree with him, but he will still find at least one conspiracy theory that proves you wrong – which would prove him wrong if he agrees and then disagrees with you.
Below: Same tent, different person on shift in year 2015, February.
Standing in front of the White House with signs in hand mentioning North Korea and South Korea spelled as "Corea" is no mistake.
Sure, I could have read deeper into the small protest of two, but I was more confused as to why “Korea” was misspelled – or was it?
The accepted push for such a change from “K” to “C” was given the nod of Korean Scholars and Politicians as a drive to make the English spelling begin with the "C" instead of the "K."
The thought was that the Japanese changed what was originally a "C" to a "K" at the start of their 1910 to 1945 occupation because the "J" in Japan comes after the "C" in what may have been the original English spelling and Japan would not stand for such... Therefore, Japan went with the "K."
Looking back to year 1890, Korea was spelled "Corea" on the cornerstone of the British built embassy in Seoul. Early evidence in English books, maps and other printed material also display a "C" instead of the "K." The change to the "K" came on strong in 1910 and the rest is history.
People don't always look as you may assume they should look: He has met past presidents, worked with troubled youth, served our country in the armed forces, helped prison inmates, led a church and more.
His name is Daniel Kingery and he travels the country picking up trash while displaying his sign “CleanHonestGov.com.” The website is a mix of his views, ideas and information on the government.
Originally from Iowa, the 2007 Presidential candidate goes from state to state talking to anyone who is willing to listen.
The former U.S. Marine was once the owner of several junkyards and a laundromat in the past, according to the “The Rock Island Argus” Newspaper. The paper also wrote in '07 that he stayed in the Kansas City Mission for a short period, and has served jail time for various contempt of court sanctions regarding disagreements with various city or community officials.”
To say he has seen some interesting things while being homeless would be an understatement.
In 2018 the 58 year old Kingery was homeless in the area of the White House. There, he has sat through extreme weather conditions, religious protests, public demonstrations, and white pride marches... He was not said to be a part of the rallies, protests or marches – only at the right place at perhaps the right time to witness history unfold in a small way. When interviewed by “Street Sense Media” reporter Christian Zapata he stated, “He looks at such events as opportunities to “learn from those who might be an enemy or have been taught to be one.”
“When they judge you, yawn.
When they misunderstand you, smile.
When they underestimate you, laugh.
When they condemn you, ignore.
When they envy you, rejoice.
When they oppose you, prevail.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
SURVIVAL: He came to the Washington DC area in the early 2000's for a construction related job. He told me the job went well, he got an efficiency apartment and life was good. The market eventually went sour in 2008 and the job was cut, the apartment was yanked away and life led him to the streets.
Some of us overcome obstacles while others only survive, grasping at the strings of the rope to remain afloat.
42 Year old Gail Carriger stated during an interview, “I suspect it may be like the difference between a drinker and an alcoholic; the one merely reads books, the other needs books to make it through the day." I think that sums up the difference of surviving verses living.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the creator of Frankenstein wrote, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
While the pain is great the growth can be greater.
If you want to change something, you have to think bigger than yourself. You have to think outside the box.
True, you maybe a little different from others. You may have had a few negative run-ins due to your creativity and free spirit. You may live with your head in the clouds at times and some may not understand you.
Others may talk negative about you and you fail to correct them because you are too busy dreaming or growing in some way.
Most won’t see eye to eye with you because you go places that are not full of beauty and lush green plants.
You fall down and make mistakes… a lot. Then, you admit to the many mistakes and misguided roads because your eyes see more than what is ahead of you at times.
You make others laugh to cover up your displeasure and distaste of guidance or hurts. Sometimes both.
Far from a social butterfly, you fly away from the crowds.
There is also a chance that you can’t make up your mind sometimes, overthink, underthink, fail to plan, jump from number 1 to number 10, don’t read instructions, don’t take instruction and finally - - run from things that make sense.
But hey, that’s you. You are different.
Start dreaming and stop talking, gossiping or bad mouthing others. Start moving. Or, continue the old road and don't make a difference - up to you.
In some areas of Cuba, it is a slower pace of life. Instead of cars roaring down narrow streets, you often see taxis with pedals instead of engines. Conversation instead of cellphones. Smiles instead of glares.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." ― Henry David Thoreau
Going home with new treasures on the same grounds that Jesus walked... In fact, only about 100 yards from where he rose again.
Perhaps this dumpster holds more treasure, curiosity and magic than others in Israel?
It was a sea of people around every corner in Old City Jerusalem. A mixture of tourist and locals going about their daily chores of shopping, sightseeing, selling and more.
Jerusalem is the most visited city in Israel. About 3.6 million people visit the city annually.
In the Old City of Jerusalem you see shoppers making their way home from a day of purchases, you see beggars asking for change, you see the aged sitting in chairs along the streets talking, laughing, smoking. You see life, some of which resembles the way life may have been in the late 1500's.
Today, Old City consist of an estimated 27,500 Muslims, 5,681 Christians and 3,089 Jews.
The area is mixed with different religions all living together. Sometimes they live in harmony and sometimes they don't. It can be a mixed bag of rest and fighting. The United States Department of State reports, "Jerusalem has been assessed as Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution"
In a May 2018 edition of The Guardian, Harriet Sherwood wrote, "Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City say their presence at the geographical heart of their faith is under threat from intimidation and aggressive property acquisition by hardline Jewish settlers."
Life. It can be different from what we think depending on where we stand.
Jewish men and boys laughed jovially as they took part in the celebrations of Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer count.
It happened in May of last year (2018) and Bonfires were lit throughout Jerusalem as part of the celebration.
This particular event I photographed was at a Jewish school. In Israel, it is celebrated as a symbol for the fighting Jewish spirit.
2018: A Jewish night in Israel marked by a celebration.
"A mother understands what a child does not say."
He could have talked for hours, never asking me for a penny. It was as if his sign was a disguise for friendship or connection. I simply tuned in at the right time.
One of the things he talked about was his injured leg. He told me that he got bit by a spider and the aftermath landed him in the hospital.
Today, the spider bite is healing. However, he still has trouble walking for long distances as the pain radiates from the outside of his skin inward and down to his foot.