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just … do it

There is a great, well, need from the people in our community to help those who are struggling with addictions of all sorts, and it seems like things progress like this:

  1. Awareness of the need – as addiction to pain meds and then to heroin is expanding into white, middle-class communities, more people are seeing their friends, their children or parents suffering.  Since our community is mostly rural and white, we’ve been able to keep addictions to heroin, crack, methamphetamine at a remove, at least in our comfortable minds.  It’s much closer to us now, much more personal.  We begin to talk about it with each other.
  2. We want to help.  Sometimes that’s because, even though there’s still a remove for some of us, it’s a matter of compassion for ‘others’.  Sometimes it’s much more desperate, because it’s our child or parent or friend.  Each time someone dies, that urge to help becomes stronger.  We talk about it some more, and more often, and with more passion.
  3. We look for the agency that will give us access or structure – and this is where it begins to break down, because the agencies often take a lot of time to create talk addictionprograms, hire staff and raise money to pay for same.  The longer they take, the more people at risk.  When the programs aren’t there or aren’t enough or aren’t accessible, we are left frustrated and baffled and helpless.  We now talk about how awful it is that this problem exists and there is no active solution.  Blame sets in.

We are, every one of us, moved to help each other because we know that in so doing, we are helping a part of ourselves.  I am your ‘hand’, a part of you, and when I suffer, you feel it.   You are my knee, my left thumb, my heart.  When you are in pain, I feel it, maybe not consciously, but never doubt that I feel it.  I may not have the skill to offer you to ‘fix’ whatever ails you, but I can buy you a coffee, give you a few no-strings-attached dollars, smile with genuine warmth, offer you a ride.  And then I can do the same thing tomorrow.   And the next day, and the next.  In fact, I can actively look for you, watch out for you, offer you a hand.

That’s really all it takes, which brings me to the title of this piece.  Don’t think about this a lot, don’t let the monkey mind get so bogged down with the fear of other that it keeps you from acting.  Don’t make up a story about what might happen if you shake the hand of someone who hasn’t seen a shower for some time.  Definitely don’t make up a story of what they will do with the change you give them.  Don’t worry about the liability or the ‘what ifs’ of your gesture, whatever it is.

Don’t wait for someone else to do it, or an agency to pick up the ball, for the money to be there.  You know those homeless families that are – still – living in the motel on the edge of town?   Do you know about the several groups that supply food at low to no cost?  Did you know that we apparently have pain management support groups that are lightly attended?  Reckon anyone using any of these things needs a ride to and from?

Do you know about the church that offers a free meal once a week to all takers?  How about the cafe that cooks a free Saturday lunch?  or the meals that the Salvation Army provides?  You could volunteer, heck you could just show up and offer to wash dishes.

There are people who hang out around town who will become familiar if you watch out for them.  They often ask for spare change.  You could give it to them – or you could buy them a coffee or a soda or ask them if you can get them something to drink.  You could smile at them.

There are a million things that you can offer if you stretch yourself a bit.  Please don’t wait for someone else to take up the slack.  Just pick something … and do it.heart and soul






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