The Power of Intuition — II
Homelessness, Writing a book & Coin laundry ads
This was around 10 years ago…
It had been a brutal few weeks. Trying to find a safe & quiet place to sleep had become increasingly difficult. Winter and homelessness was quite the bloody combination.
But I had a daily schedule that I had to adhere to, to keep my spirit alive. I needed to get to the library computer before anyone else, so I could make a booking to type in peace for an hour.
It was ‘first in best dressed’.
For the rest of the day it was musical chairs.
I would stand near the book shelf and keep an eye out for anyone finishing their session early. As soon as they’d leave, I would go and take their seat, and continuing typing / designing the book until the next legitimate person turned up.
I’d do this over a 9-hour period everyday, sometimes over 12-hours*
*if I was lucky enough to hold onto an extra sandwich for lunch from my nightly visit to the soup van.
Otherwise lunch meant taking a long trip down to the Hare Krishna’s while dodging public transport inspectors.
Beyond food, I found that if I didn’t give myself a sense of purposefulness, I could get into a survival loop, which basically ran from lunch to dinner to finding a place to sleep to all the way again to lunch.
Its no different to being a clock-puncher. Except the reality is exceptionally raw when one is living outside the umbrella of perceived societal protection.
Now apart from creating a sense of purposefulness, I did have one advantage: Of never seeing myself as homeless. This wasn’t because I forced myself to feel this way; its just the way I naturally felt.
You can call this delusion. But there are far worse delusions I’ve seen people hold within their lives of privilege and luxury.
Note: This above comment isn’t specifically a dig at financially successful people because it applies to everybody.
Anyway, I needed to be in close proximity of the library overnight. Options to sleep were therefore less than ideal.
There were a lot of disturbed people roaming the area at odd hours. Not sure why, but they’d sniff out the fact that someone is lying in an obscure corner — not even visible to the naked eye.
I encountered the same level of distress from wandering homeless alcoholics, drug addicts and drunken sports fans.
The threat of physical violence was always hovering, when the odd deranged person felt it was a good idea to coerce a sleeping person into a mindless interaction — one I was never interested in having.
There were also multiple occasions when I missed getting urinated on by an inch or two. Whenever I’d sense this was about to happen, I’d get up / flee so swiftly that my racing shadow would scare the bejeezus out of the pisser in the dark.
Sleep is the most vital ingredient across ones life. If you spend long enough without much of it, you can start to feel your mind playing tricks on you — mostly not in the positive range*.
*But if you are lucky enough to experience lack of sleep in circumstances where you do have a home, it can open up a portal to very interesting creative flows.
In my situation though, irrespective of whether I had sleep (or not), I needed to be refreshed and clean in the mornings. I had to make sure I did not compromise my routine.
The good thing was that the library toilets used to open an hour before the actual library.
Public toilets have always been places I’ve hated because the hygiene is invariably dubious. But here, I got to use the rest room when it was nice and clean first up in the morning.
Having an hour in there to myself was extremely important. I’d use the wash basin to kind of give myself a shower, so I always appreciated a dry floor to open my backpack and spread my things around.
Washing, drying and warming up my socks / jocks using the hand dryer was always a little highlight. In the cold of winter it felt so good to wear something that was warm — even for a minute or two.
Then there was the trimming of my beard and also airing of my sleeping bag. My backpack wasn’t large. Half of it squeezed the sleeping bag in and half of it my clothes.
I always made sure to leave the restroom in exactly in the same condition I’d find it in. I never used my own difficulties as a reason to destroy or disrespect someone else’s good work.
The key for me was, I had to look presentable, so I’d never have to do the “Oh, so you are homeless” conversation with anyone.
Even under duress I’ve always held onto my standards & values. The ‘standards’ part did not seem to impinge on other people so much, but it was fascinating how people responded when I’d refuse to compromise my ‘values’ towards what they thought I should do in “my situation”.
But this run of bad, sleepless, freezing nights, was extending beyond what I could will myself to cope. I was feeling quite frustrated, tired, sad and quite delirious — sometimes close to breaking point.
I had got to a stage where I really needed conversations with people with a level of understanding / awareness above the mundane. I was really keen to spend time with people who could reflect back who I was on the inside, and not bring focus to the current external situation of my life.
I had come to develop the capability to simultaneously deal with deepest frustration, as well as hold the wish of what I wanted to experience.
On a side note, I had observed during this period that if my energy was irritable, or if I felt stuck in the ditches for a bit too long, unsavory situations would be quickly drawn into my space.
This is why I felt I didn’t have much of a choice. I had to hold my spirit in a decent place — irrespective of how harsh things were.
It’s an extremely difficult thing to do, because at times, it made you angry that life has a special capability to kick you so much more when you’re down.
But I also realized this is the way of life. Sometimes it just amplifies your state, with no regard to the situation you’re in. Frustratingly impartial.
There is also this perceived imbalance, where, when you are struggling, opportunities seem to stay away. But once you are riding a wave of success, there is an excess abundance of opportunities which you cannot even accept.
Its bizarre, but it is just the way this works.
In another sense (from the human-societal mechanism side), I see this as an inefficiency and distribution issue. There needs to be systems where excess opportunities can be passed off to others — especially who are actively seeking. I will do something about this.
Anyway, one afternoon during this harsh stretch of sleep deprivation, I got some lunch as usual at the Hare Krishna’s. Usually I’d make the long trip back to the library to continue working, but on this day I felt too exhausted to do so.
I decided its best to aimlessly wander the streets.
At some point while walking around it started to pour down rain. I spotted a coin laundry, so I went in and took a seat.
I had noticed sometimes in coin laundries they had community boards — mostly with weird advertising. These ads were generally a combination of looking for house/housemate ads, dubious telemarketing job ads, and ‘make money while you sleep’ ads.
I distinctly hated the 3rd kind of ad. It was always about some mlm scheme where you would be introduced to someone, and that someone would then invite you to a seminar, where you’d get hammered with a sales pitch so pathetic, it would make you puke.
Years later, I would have the misfortune of being given tickets to T. Harv Ecker’s jerk fest. He tried to sell so hard & pitifully from the stage that at the end of the 3 days I left with a throbbing headache, and a new name for him…
T. Harv Beggar.
I just found him to be an extremely distasteful character. Somehow, he emanated the same level of in-authenticity I find from that Robert Cialdini guy.
Yet, on this particular afternoon at the laundromat, one of those normally useless internet marketing ads caught my eye.
I just couldn’t rationalize this, so I put it down to lack of sleep. When I read the name of the person in the ad, I felt I should really write her a message.
Once again, it was that intuitive whisper.
I call it a whisper because it can so subtle... but somehow, it can have a hypnotic pull.
I had to do it. I made my way back to the other side of town in pouring rain holding a cardboard over my head, and went back to the library.
I requested a friendly soul to lend me 5 mins of their internet time, and I replied to the ad.
Not sure what I wrote to her, but something in there must have been insightful, because within 15 minutes I got a call back from her.
Now until a week before this, I didn’t even have a phone.
I was walking along the beach when I found an old Nokia. The person must have just discarded it, because there was no sim card in it.
A few days after that I ran into someone I knew from a while before. She had been given a new phone which also came with a sim card. She had no need for another sim, so she offered it to me.
All this coincided with me sending this email, and the internet marketing lady having a number to contact me back on.
She was, at that moment, finishing up a business trip in another city, but said she felt compelled, to give me a call back following my message.
I do have a good radar for b.s. and in this case her response seemed genuine. She mentioned that she’d be flying back into town in a couple of hours, and invited me to an informal gathering at a bar later that night.
She said this was not any formal event to sell anything; it was just 3 or 4 people catching up with a guy named Dan, who wanted to show them some info on Forex.
She felt that I must talk to Dan.
I turned up that evening around 7pm. There were a couple of people enjoying a drink outside, and a lady indoors sitting in a corner sending a text. I thought this was her (Heather), so I went and introduced myself.
Heather and I got into a little conversation and she asked me what I’d been up to lately? I said I was writing a book.
I used to carry a few pages everywhere with me, so I showed them to her.
She read the first couple of pages and stopped. She looked at me and said:
“You know what, you remind me quite strongly of Joe. He’s not part of this business with Dan and I, but they way you speak just sparks my mind of conversations with him. He’s a very interesting person.”
A few minutes later a couple more people arrived, and then finally this Dan guy turned up. As soon he shook hands with me he did a double take; he said I reminded him of someone.
We got into a bit of a 3-way chat with Heather, during which, she mentioned to Dan that he should read a bit of what I have written.
He did the same thing. After a couple of pages he stopped. He looked at me and said: “The day you put all the pieces of the puzzle together, boy, the world better watch out...”
It was a strangely interesting thing for someone to say in the first 15 minutes of meeting another stranger.
A few minutes later he shared some slides from his laptop about some stuff on Forex. After the presentation we chatted again, at which point he said: “I just have a feeling I have to introduce you to this person I know: Joe.”
I guess it was no coincidence that two different people on this fateful night mentioned the same guys name.
When it was time to call it a night, Dan offered to drive me home. I directed him to an address that was near a spot I was planning to sleep that night.
When we got closer to the address I thought to myself: ‘You know what, I feel comfortable telling him the situation.’
So I told him I was actually homeless…
He paused for a moment, and then turned to me and said: “I have mentored a lot of very interesting and also capable people , but I don’t think I have ever met someone like you.
Who you are, and the way you see the world, I just can’t see a way to put you into any kind of box.
You may find it hard to accept this right now, but one day you will surpass even the most successful people I know.”
Those words.. have both, haunted me since.. and driven me forward in times of despair.
He then took out 100 dollars from his wallet and gave it to me. He said we’ll catch up again: “Give me a call when I’m back in town in a month.”
I did catch up a few times with Dan after. Every time we’d meet he would take me out to dinner to a nice restaurant. He’d bring along one interesting person with him, because he wanted them to meet me and have a conversation.
I’m sure there was something he wanted me to experience through doing this. I never asked him why.
Dan had an amazing gift: To see people for who they are meant to be; not their current representations.
He never once asked me to consider his business offers. He said he could not figure out where I could even fit in his structured business world.
“You’re un-tame-able and un-teach-able”, he’d say and laugh.
Even though I was homeless, he knew I was on a unique journey. He shared my own sentiments, that even though life has got these harsh experiences for me, I’d always keep making decisions to progress the story.
Moving forward a few months, I finally managed to get in touch with Joe (the person who was mentioned to me by both Dan and Heather).
Joe had picked up an inheritance from his grandfather and he had become obsessed with unlocking the secrets of life. He’d spend multiple months a year flying to different parts of the world attending stupidly expensive seminars & courses, to help him figure out the key to his life.
He was searching…
When we finally met, within 10 minutes of our conversation he decided to pay for the printing of a 100 copies of (the 1st version of) my book.
Later on, as I found out, this was very unlike Joe.
Yet, here he was.. going against his usual patterns.