“I cannot buy back one moment in time. That’s the most precious gift you have to give anyone. If you give a person your time, you cannot buy it back. You cannot spend a trillion dollars a day to buy back a moment in time. It’s the most valuable gift.” ~ Derrick. #DoSomethingForNothing
This is ‘Tex’. He came to Los Angeles eight months ago from Houston. We met at the end of a long line of tents that scatter the sidewalk of N Alameda St, near Union Station. Tex was a man of few words and closed his eyes for most of the time as I was cutting his hair. Despite the noise of the highway behind us and the constant flow of people walking by, this was a really relaxing time for me. I asked Tex if he felt the same - “Yeh, this feels good... I can’t remember the last time I had my hair done. You forget about how much the small things matter. A year ago I was in a completely different life. I miss people back home. Life is slower there and people have more time for one another. But I had to leave...I had to get away. I can’t really talk about it much more than that...” #DoSomethingForNothing
“Love with conditions isn’t love at all.
It’s scientific. It’s objective. There’s a goal and the goal is the condition to be met. But, when there’s no condition, it’s just joyful freedom. That is the best kind of love.
It’s acceptance. It’s forbearance. It’s tolerance. It’s enjoyment. It’s all of these things that you go through to nurture and sustain a loving feeling.
Whether that be for another person, or your career, or your private endeavour - haircutting or my cello playing. My love for the cello is unconditional. The cello asks me for nothing. It doesn’t even ask me to practise, I do that.
I bring that to the table.
That’s unconditional love.”
~ Hassan Sekou Allen. Part III #DoSomethingForNothing
Edited : @dillonion
This is Michael. He used to work on construction sites in San Francisco, working on jobs laying the foundations of what is now Silicon Valley - “Yeah, I guess people don’t remember the guys who helped build that area. I don’t know how to work computer programmes, but I know how to work with my hands. That’s not so important anymore... It’s harder and harder to find my kind of work. The tech boom all happened so quickly. I know I’m not the only one who’s been left behind.” #DoSomethingForNothing
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
I often find myself re-spraying the walls of my mind with these words. It takes a heavy dose of wilful ignorance to believe that you’re not capable of doing anything to survive. And I mean anything. I often talk about humanising the people I meet - Their name, their face, along with a new haircut and a small paragraph in the book of their life. But, I’ve come to realise that we are truly the ones that need to be re-humanised, for viewing it as ‘them’ instead of us. #DoSomethingForNothing
This is Alisha. We met on a busy day in Venice Beach last weekend. I only trimmed her hair and reshaped it slightly as she’s growing it out. Alisha lost most of her hair a year ago, through stress, while her mother was ill. She said she’s been building up her confidence to get it cut. Venice has been her home for almost twenty years. The majority of those were spent in a house a less than a mile away from here. For the last year, Alisha’s been sleeping on the street.
“I met a guy and we got married and we had it good for a while. I never thought he’d take everything from me, emotionally and then financially. I guess you’re blind to these things at the time. I ended up with nothing. Apart from my pets. They’re still with me out here and I’m so happy I have them. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I daydream I’m going home again. Out here, you’re either invisible or an eye sore. I’m not sure which is worse. Honestly, I feel shattered...But, I feel like a warrior to be here for the things I’ve survived recently. When you have no place to go, you’re moved on constantly. You wish to be visible so people know you’re here. At the same time, being invisible would be a good idea to get some
rest...” There were times during the haircut when things got quite emotional. I looked over and saw my friends Reece and Mikey feeling the same. Some of us will have experienced being in a relationship that has ended the way Alisha’s did. It’s could to happen to anyone reading these words now. None of us can predict when someone close to you could turn their back. It takes a while to bounce back from that stuff. Here’s hoping we have the people in our life that will be there with a safe place for us to lay down and recalibrate. That’s not always the case. When I finished, Alisha gave me the warmest hug. I can still feel it now. We needed that. #DoSomethingForNothing
This is Benjamin, 38 years old. Currently, he’s sleeping near Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles Church, near Union Station. I asked him what brought him here - “Before, I was sleeping by a bridge beneath a highway in the Valley. There’s a tent encampment there but it was a toxic place for me. I was hooked on crystal meth and doing anything I could to survive. When you have nothing, everyday is a struggle to keep things moving towards the next. I had to get away from that. One night, when I was in a really dark place in my mind, I tuned in to a deeper voice that was talking to me. I feel like that voice was God telling me to change my life. I haven’t been clean for very long, but I’m trying. I’m going to work. I want a job where I can work as much as I can and start to change things. I want a family.”
As I was cutting Benjamin’s hair, he opened up some more - “I knew I was gay from an early age. It wasn’t easy growing up so I suppressed those feelings for a long time until I was out on the streets. Now I feel like I should resist those feelings again to live a good life. I know the church wants that. I don’t know. I want to be better...I want to be happy.” #DoSomethingForNothing