The image of the hospitality waiting for me curbside was on my mind. Sitting on the crate stuffed with Tim's things topped with an ancient yellowed pillow was something I was willing to do, but I sure didn't want to. The girls knew my concerns and found the perfect solution- they remembered where they had seen stacks of fresh crates. We grabbed a shiny royal blue one and paired it with a towel from the apartment as the cushion for the top. Tim would not insist I sit on his throne if I brought my own. It was a little lame, but bringing home scabies would be lamer.
Blocks before reaching Tim's corner I spot him lumbering on the sidewalk. His profile and gait is unmistakable. Three newspapers tucked under his arm, I catch up to him and we walk together to his corner of the Central Business District (CBD as all the locals call it). Along the way I asked if the police came back and gave him closure on the newsstand attack from the morning before. He sheepishly tells me HE is now going to be brought up on charges because there was some spit involved. In his upbeat voice he swears that IF there was spit it was an accidental spraying and a bi-product of his speech pattern. I assess a 50-50 chance that he was acting out versus it was accidental. I can vouch for the extreme possibility of accidental. My coping strategy has been to keep my sunglasses on at all times and lips slightly inwardly furled. We make our way to his corner. He scratches the whole 2 blocks.
It is clear he wants to open shop before we begin so I set on my crate and wait patiently while he positions his whiteboard, cardboard sign and coin blanket. As he folds and fans the aged coin blanket getting it to crease in just the right spots I hold my breath trying not to inhale any foreign flying objects.
Shop is in order. We begin.
I would like to suggest some ground rules.
You can refuse any question you are not comfortable with.
Your name, and the name of any family members will be changed to protect identities so you can speak freely with no worries of repercussion.
Do you have any ground rules to add?
Do you feel that $200 is a fair price for the interview?
He is amenable to the ground rules and has none to add. I sense he is enjoying this process. He says he has a lot of trust in me. He refers to an interview he did another time that made him wild. I think I found that interview by random accident on youtube while doing research and it was easy to see why it annoyed him. The interviewer was a guy named Taizy and he called Tim DEVA. It is easy for me to criticize Taizy because he comes across as patronizing and ends with handing him lemonade, snickers and oreos. However, Taizy in his own twisted was probably trying to do his own version of something good with some self-interest getting in the way making it a bit soiled in its final appearance. I can understand that, I have struggled with my own self-interest pursuing this project. I am not doing my outreach in silence, I am blogging about it. It is a fine line to manage the ethics involved; I have done a lot of self-questioning and challenging.
Tim was born in April 1957 in a public hospital in New Castle, which is 100 km north of Sydney. He describes his town of origin as sleepy, tells me who was prime minister at the time and paints the picture of a once active steel works and port serving the coal mines. He remarks that it is just a shadow of what it once was. His parents married in 1955 and Mom became stay-at-home as was custom at the time. His father was not wealthy but a resourceful tradesman (electrician) and built his own home. The piece of property of the family home was constructed on was an amazing find as it was in an area "opening up" and walkable to the lake for prawning or swimming yet also on the edge of a shopping area and close to the primary and high school. All of their basic needs were easily accessible by foot. He considers this a privilege he had in his life and remarks this preconditioned him to being able to cope with the urban environment he lives in now. I don't want to set him off on a tangent but wonder if the words cope with could be replaced with choose? Perhaps recreating accessibility to things (or feelings)- tangible and intangible- may be one of the very reasons he is in Sydney on this corner? Someone with his current limited socioeconomic means trying to live a more traditional life could be a shut-in very far from the city in a shack with little interaction or accessibility to intelligent conversation opportunities. This man has permanently set up on the busiest corner of all of Australia- I think he would die if isolated.
Tim goes on to describe the house his father built and the lineage of additions with the most noteworthy his woodworking garage. He makes a point to praise his father's unique design, which was not pyramid but rather a tall roof on 1 side and short on the other so it was ideal for catching rainwater. I tell him I think we call that a salt box in the USA and he is delighted to have a name for it. His passion for conservationism is revealed as he goes on about the water catchment area and benefit of collecting rainwater. He knights his father as being in advance of his time but follows up the complement with the observation that he made a mistake by using corrugated wooden slats for the outside walls that were hard to paint and attracted dirt and mildew. I flash to a vision of Tim off this corner with a bucket of whitewash in hand playing Tom Sawyer as a boy.
I shift our conversation to siblings and he follows me there. He is the oldest of 4. He was '57, Mary '58, his only brother (Tim omits his name, there is a clear change of voice tone) born the exact same date as Obama 8/4/61, then Elizabeth '63. He takes the opportunity to poke at my Americanism AND shows off what he knows about us pizza-lovers by adding that his brother did not have the luxury of being born in Hawaii. All the siblings are alive…and all are fire signs. Not that he gives much thought to the zodiak, but feels it is a noteworthy fact because it has been brought forth more than once by observers of their family dynamic. I take the descriptor as a show of acceptance and origin of their unique, repelling personalities. All have gone their separate ways, all are very intelligent…some use this intelligence and some have yet to use it (he points to himself in perhaps a moment of ownership of his situation). As if he is cheering himself on he says, when I am ready I will go out and do what I was supposed to do years ago. This sentence hangs with me and I exercise great control to not pounce on him to expand. Timing is everything.
Brother Travis (the name is revealed with a tone I learn is reserved for any reference involving him) lives in Redford which…. is just 2-½ km away (lots of intonation). Grumpy. Nasty. Social attitude problem. He took it out on our mother while she was alive and when she died he started taking it out on other members of family namely me and Mary. He last saw Travis for 5 minutes in 2006 and then previous to that was October 2004 when their mother died. Travis won't come near me. He has done horrible things yet calls himself Christian. Even though his tone changes when he speaks of Travis, it is not one of seething, it is animated and charged with emotion but expressed politely. I have seen Tim's anger at the security guard and his brother and it feels like he is an eternal optimist and any bad situation is just one good idea away from being able to be resolved and forgiven. It is the strangest bundle of characteristics you can imagine coming from a smelly, scratchy homeless guy.
Elizabeth is the most intelligent but wastes it. She is a teacher and was married to a man who wouldn't have sex with her. He was dishonest to her and perhaps himself and it turned out in the end that he wanted to live a homosexual life. This whole progression of events caused her a lot of misery. She remarried a guy she met in church. He is somewhat lazy, they have 3 children. She could have done better. It is one of those mysteries. Some people in life get much more than they ever hoped for and some people get much less. She got much less. One of their kids developed a breathing problem, there was financial distress, housing interest rates changed. Lets just say she attempted to be ambitious and with a one income family with him not doing anything…all these events led to the destruction of her 2nd marriage. She inherited massive bills. I am more forgiving of my 2nd sister. After our mothers death she behaved poorly but I understand she had a one-track mind to stave off bankruptcy. She was desperate. She tried to be a pioneer of the internet selling patchwork needlework online and mail order. A lot of people have fallen by the wayside because the internet- it's different world. You need advertising, word of mouth alone is hard. Paying for magazine ads is expensive. She needed money to make it work and didn't have it. She was wiped out. She hasn't seen him for years.
My mother suffered greatly at the end of her life. She had bowel cancer and eventually died when a virus could not be fought off by her lowered immune system and took her. It was hard on me. I was on the street collecting 2 blocks from where I am now- I was situated where the Apple shop exists today. I see you have Apple products you are recording with…is that more than 1? Is that in case I am verbose? I was financially supporting Beth plus had to deal with my mother. This is the first mention of who I assume is the person he refers to in his signs asking for money for a stepdaughter with medical problems. His description is somewhat convoluted but I gather that after the mothers death two of the siblings (Elizabeth and Travis) wanted to quickly sell everything and be done with it, and two (Tim and Mary) wanted to take some time and sift through things to ready a sale in the spring and be thoughtful about the process. The fastmovers prevailed and sold everything of the mothers PLUS all of his things- the ones he held as precious and were stored in her garage. His rare stamp collection went- one stamp he estimates was just worth $1000 at the time but $15,000 present day.
I ask about the sibling he had not expanded upon. Mary. Mary has her own quirks. Some of her problems stem from a car accident but many are consistent with a person born with their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck. A lot of paranoia. Dr Janov in his primal scream theories describes anyone with early trauma like molestations and health issues as nearly always the benefactors of serious problems later. Mary always has had such problems. She is disadvantaged dealing with social things and tends to be a bit paranoid. She is a nice person (said with emphasis to counterweight her fore described issues). She visits me often. The last they were together was Christmas-they spent the day and went to church together. Mary is the only member of the family that was faithful to our mother. She took care of her especially in the last few years of her life and did errands for her. Mom was a great mother but very needy- constantly needing to be cared for. She couldn't drive anywhere, Mary had to do it, and this was just as my mother had to do for her mother. They were all so dependent on each other, why didn't they all just move into the same house with as much time they spent together? Such co-dependence. Mother was with her mother probably 25 hrs a week going for medicines and waiting at the surgery. I suppose this is just what daughters tend to do. Mary found herself in the same situation a generation later but add a few paranoias. As a classic example he tells me that Mary didn't get on with the father. To this day they basically don't talk. Mary used to get worked up in a way I never understood. She felt our father was so upset and seething about losing the house he built with his own hands that he was always angling and plotting to try to get it back from our mother. Crazy paranoia. It's the way it is. I can't help it. I was lucky- she treated me well- I treated her well.
Father is still alive? Yes, still alive, there was a divorce. He used to come visit but he is now 83 in 6 weeks and riddled with aches and pains and doesn't like travelling anymore. He is a stick in mud you might say. I guess I am too. I don't like to have to walk more than a block or two for my paper. Father is the same. He likes to be in his garage making things out of wood. They divorced in the 70s and he went off with other woman. Mom got the house for many years but sold to the local counsel and moved to a suburb closer to her mother. Sister was co dependent of Mom, Mom was co dependent on her mother. Generations of doing the same thing. You use the word co-dependence. Was their any substance addiction or abuse? No alcohol or drugs… just illness (whispered).
I never married, came close at one stage in 1980's. Learned a few lessons. I am very careful with what I do with my money. I won't give a woman a chance if there is the slightest (emphasized) rudeness, paranoia or disrespect. Beth says she loves me but has put me in bad position and has not advocated for me. She was the agent. The contract was between me and her parents- we will get to that later. There hasn't been much evidence that she is doing her part. I have suffered greatly this last decade. In a matter of days it will be the 10th anniversary of the contract. Ten years of being an unpaid servant for a woman a generation younger than I. Beth and her family have utterly consumed my life. I ask the obvious…when a man loves a woman? No, we are not romantically involved. She says she loves me, but I have made it clear I am not interested. I call her my stepdaughter (refers to the whiteboard asking for money for his ill step-daughter) because that best reveals my view of the nature of our relationship. I adopted her as family, I have been more like a father to her than her own father- more on that later.
I was an environmental activist of sorts in the 80s and 90s and active in the XYZ. I am very political and to this day belong to the LMNOP. Back in the day I always attended the meetings in hopes that my environmental record and knowledge would make a contribution towards the pursuit of a political career. My only other major area of industrious interest was charitable works. I am getting more convinced by the day that I won't have the chance to have public political life. My best friend at university has a seat in the senate- that could have been me. We didn't get to it but I know from the youtube interview by Taizy that Tim has held paying jobs in his life.
What is your degree? I have a commerce degree- I didn't finish in record time. I went full time then had a few failures but by 1983 it was complete. I was doing a lot of traveling and that doesn't mix when you are a student. It's the worse thing you can do. The only thing worse is full time work or being a parent. I really pity those people- they have a nightmare of a life.
After numerous we'll-get-back-to-that's I see my time is slipping away. I need to start picking up the loose ends. The contract… Beth. Tim can you tell me how you first met Beth and how did that lead you to being on this street corner…er, uh…if that led you to being on this street corner…perhaps that is an incorrect assumption?
Ah, yes, well ok. I first met Beth and other people when I would come down by train to Sydney. I lived at my mother's place and had a pattern of coming in to the city often to do environmental activist work. I went to the XYZ building quite often. I started noticing the unlucky people so started some Christian evangelizing in the Kings Cross area and a few other places. You are talking to one of the strongest people opposed to drugs. My whole family is. Not one of the four of us is interested in self-medicating to get out of our problems. The strongest anyone has is caffeine. We are just not interested. Not even in cigarettes, perhaps partly because we watched our father. Even he eventually quit smoking after 50 years. He found it easy to toss. My family is not needy, we are not cowards. We are a family of lions and in our own respect have our own form of courage. We do what we like and are very good at that. We may sometimes be disgraceful to each other but basically are capable intellectually and otherwise. Capable of great things.
I evangelized to mostly prostitutes and drug users. Heroine was vey prominent here at that time. Some cocaine, but not much. Did you know that unlike your America, Australia almost never had a crack problem? Beth was homeless and had run away from her family and got mixed up with guy named Robbie. They still see each other. He is the father of her kids. She was only a teenager and crazy mixed up. She was latch-keyed by her parents who went overseas for months at time. A lot of females would go astray in this sort of environment. The bottom line is she began to live with the homeless and found Robbie. He had his own reasons for getting away from his family. They were very military and he didn't like that nor fit in so they formed a bond that continues today to a certain extent.
I was unemployed and coming down to Sydney to supplement by going to food cues. The suburbs don't have many services- most services are still pretty centralized into the CBD. Mom wasn't charging rent but I still had no money to pay for lodging when in the city. Prices are horrendous here in Sydney as I am sure you have seen. The cheapest hotel was $40/night, which is too much if you are unemployed. You choose to rough it once and then just get used to it. He lived this life style on and off for 10 years dividing his time between up north and Sydney making sure to be at Monday night XYZ meetings to continue to gain exposure in environmental activism. It was the late 1990's and I saw them in the food cue. Beth was 17 in 1998 and Robbie 6 yrs older. I knew they were on heroine. They had fallen by the wayside. Sydney had its heroine traps. I was never tempted but a young susceptible female…she needed stabilizing and didn't get it for a long time. Her parents are ruthless, fabulously rich and ruthless. Beth's last name is Gatsby. Her father many years ago changed the family name because he admired the moral principles in the book The Great Gatsby- a rich semi or retired philandering gangster and bootlegger.
Beth currently lives in a house in Liverpool, which is about 50km away from Sydney by train. She rents the house and lives with 3 children. She doesn't qualify for services and I am sure why. She has hooked up with woman who has done some good for her. She hasn't used for a quite a while.
She fell pregnant at 21 and did her best to get off. I was contracted at that time- with her parents- there was a contract conversation with her parents in February 2003 before the baby was even conceived- we'll get back to that. Robbie moved in and got Beth pregnant as soon as she got a house. Her son was born a methadone addict and it took 4-5 months for him to detox. Beth got off it faster and would have gotten off it fully before he was born but there was no evidence at the time that a pregnant woman should detox. It was felt by the medical establishment that it would be too serious a process while she was pregnant so she had to continue on drugs switching to methadone until after the arrival of her baby.
The contract? It is the thing that all roads seem to lead to and he consistently gets to it but then jumps off it with a more on that later. I feel like it is ok to push a bit, I press him about the contract.
Beth saw me sitting outside by the now Apple store. She recognized me and said what are you doing? She remembered my name from the food cue. I had made the decision I was getting nowhere evangelizing- no one was taking me seriously. I much preferred to set up a charity. I was out raising funds to set up the charity when she spotted me. I was looking to put 25-30k together. Once I had the money I would incorporate, get a bucket brigade going, the proceeds would be reinvested so eventually letter writing and all kinds of tasks like that could be layered on to help increase its size. I made the decision to do this and was on my way raising funds to set it up. Beth was just let out of women's prison for stealing due to heroine and was homeless. She was with Robbie still and he himself just out of prison. Both homeless. She told me she needed funds, and that no one would trust her because she was a heroine addict to extend terms of repay. She promised she would never ask for money she couldn't repay.
She said to me, "I want your permission to go and ask my parents- who are rich- if they would guarantee a loan if I take credit/money from you."
I responded, if you borrow money from me you will slow down the development of my foundation and you need to understand I need proper compensation.
"Can I have your permission to ring them and get them to guarantee my debt to you?"
Fine, I will need you to go and get that in contract form, and you need to compensate me, not as a person, but as the business you are taking funds from.
The first withdrawal was $2000.
Neither of us realized that her parents were rats. They treated her badly even when they found out she was pregnant. Maybe part of reason was they thought I caused it. They didn't pay before they went overseas next and I wound up with a pregnant woman with morning sickness and had to fend off drug debts and pay rent. Her parents were in Europe 7 months that time. By the time they came back her boy was born and 5 months old. She was lucky that I was prepared upon guarantee of compensation to stick by her otherwise she would have had to have an abortion. I stuck by her the whole of her pregnancy. We had many adventures- none of them pleasant while she was pregnant. It was a hard time. I had no alternative but to be her financial backer- I paid for everything- cots, baby toys, amniocentesis. She was sick bleeding everyday and public healthcare had significant waiting periods so self-pay seemed to be the answer for more than one issue that arose. Robbie was occasionally there…and jail. By December 2003 I had already invested 30-40,000 in her and she had broke me financially. All my savings for my charity were lost. I was doing 18 hour days every day holding this sign even in my sleep- it was that bad. I didn't have a choice, she was pregnant. Medicare refunds were small and didn't pay the next bill. It was a nightmare. Bad times.
Do you have much money left over these days after taking care of your own needs?
I usually don't spend much on myself. Eventually I will be free. I get a government social security check into my bank account monthly and take it out and give it to Beth- I sent her $1004 this week. I have had to give her over the last 9.9 years everything I have made. Have to or want to? Oh I think it has been a matter of have to.
Her parents when they returned in 2004 would not see me. I still haven't seen them after almost 10 years. I do a service. The parents gave a guarantee that I am supposed to be compensated. I am the CEO of this charity and have put $450k into one benefactor over 10 years. Do you think you will ever get money? I will get large amount. I think what they have been doing is waiting for the grandmother to die. She is 99. The fathers money is tied up in giant family trust- I am pretty sure of it.
When did you last see Beth?
I last saw her New Year's Eve. She doesn't come into the city often with her liver disease. Is the disease from her drug use? No, it's not from heroine…her and Robbie were obsessive with their cleanliness when they shot up. They didn't get hep.
How does the money flow work? I put money directly into her bank account. Most of what I make roadside as well as my pension goes into her account. I paid $1004 days ago and she still needs more. Her medical bills are sky high. She can't sit on this corner for herself so I do it for her. I am doing good. She requires 5 medicines. She has 2 illnesses- the second of which she has known about just for 1 year now and it really bumped up her medical bills. How old is she now? She is 31 and her kids are 9, 8 and 5. All Robbie's? Yes, (laughs) but with 3 different mothers. Robbie is a serial philanderer. Women can't resist him but once they are pregnant they don't want anything to do with him and give the baby to him to raise-it's a you-deal-with-it-and-get-out-of-my-life situation. The 1 child is hers and the rest are Robbie's.
What is it like living on the street?
Tourists give me sleeping bags, purses, beach towels, things they can't carry home on the airplane- I get lots of that stuff plus their leftover food from the hotel. I get a lot of foreign food I have never seen before. I don't mind but don't know what much of it is. Some of it is so cosmopolitan I struggle to know what it is- especially the Korean stuff.
Robbery is the biggest problem living on the street- especially when you sleep. Murders happen but are rare. The community cameras give some degree security. They have saved me on occasion. They are slow to respond.
Do you know other homeless, is there any sense of community amongst them?
They turn over. Little clicks form, I don't associate. I am based here and people know me, I don't go looking for people. Do you see yourself as different from the other rough sleepers? I do. I am on the street but not of the street. I don't accept this as my home. Some spend all their life here. I am as old as the great dividing [some reference to history that I missed]. 10 years is a short period of time across my whole life. This is just a phase in my life. I don't regard it as other than that and am not willing to accept anything else. I try to treat people well but most are defeated in life. Most of the homeless here are alcoholics or on a pension trying to fundraise for something to do like go to the pub. I am here to do a job. I have to have a professional attitude to support Beth and honor the contract. I am conscious that even though her parents are scallywags and have not helped me, I expect at some stage to be able to have a job not so different from yours or most of people in Australia. I just can't control the timing.
How much money would it take to change all this? How much money would get you off this corner? Probably $2-3000 then I can set up my charity right away and set up the bucket brigades and set up Beth as responsibility of charity and it can grow and still have some proceeds for me. It will need advertising. I just can't get there because Beth is so needy- so expensive medically. A child flushed a toy in toilet and a plumber is needed- there is always an incredible amount of turmoil to rescue her from. How do you find out about this turmoil and needs? She tells me over the phone. I call her. Mobile phones create issues when you are homeless, I use the pay phone.
How do you feel about community you are a part of?
Sometimes I have gotten $1000, it is rare but it has happened. Some people take me to pizza hut. Most people don't have time. Most people treat me as if don't exist.
Public opinion seems to be that many homeless suffer from mental illness or drug addiction. This may be why people don't know how to engage. What do you say to that? The majority are mentally ill or addicted, but doesn't mean all are. I get that people don't know what to do, but I also get that people develop a rut and get comfortable in their rut and don't know their neighbors or smell the roses. People staring is better than people pretending not to see you. Some people have their unexpressed feelings about you and the feelings come out once you are on their territory- that is what happened with that security guard that beat me up yesterday.
You love to poke fun at my country. Lets end by you telling me how you think Australian view Americans? We think you are crazy. You call yourself democratic but you have the most undemocratic system especially to elect your officials. It is ludicrous that you have to identify your party when you register to vote. Why is the system structured so it turns into a race between the states instead of the nation collectively expressing their views? The states are always trying to maximize their appeal- thinking of themselves instead of the nation as a whole- it's a joke. In Australia your political views are all kept secret- no need to register as a persuasion. No states determining federal stuff. Why should a divorce in California be different than a divorce in Idaho? The concepts of lawgivers and attorneys being elected reeks of corruption. Voting who your lawmaker is may be one thing but the law enforcer- talk about organizing a system to accommodate a crook getting into office! We think your elected sheriffs are especially a joke and something from a bygone age. You have a shocking (stressed) international image with respect to guns. It's pathetic. We had 150 shootings last year- not good- but nowhere near the scale of America. It's so unfortunate. We have tried to get rid of semi and automatic weapons and to license people. It almost works. There are some frayed ends, some smuggling but this is all small by comparison to the good that has been done. Clearly you as a nation could do better and you don't even try. The Australian constitution was framed heavily in the American one but we made sure to recognize what NOT to do. We have the house and senate- we use the same names- but the whole concept of the states all being their own ultimate courts of appeal would be intolerable for Australia. We have 1 common law system versus the American 51.
As far as people, we mostly have a favorable view of Americans. We feel there is not much difference between you and us. We definitely have some similarities.
I run my flora and fauna theory by him. I am convinced the natural world has an effect on the development of culture and societal behavior. Aussies are bold and their wildlife is too. I think your view is irrelevant. We hardly see the wildlife you speak about! How often do you see a skunk? Our uniqueness is because of our isolation and our embracing of technology. In the 1800's we embraced things like the railway and telegraph, which connected us to the rest of world very fast. There was a cable put under the water around the gold rush era and we were able to talk to London. A country doesn't do that sort of thing unless they are very interested in dealing with a gold financed infrastructure. We quite quickly became a wealthy colony. It's remarkable as a large country we pretty much have the same accent from east to west. Look at your southern versus New England dialect.
Tim sang on and on and verbally danced through his beloved history knitting the pieces of hundreds of days of newspaper articles together in his mind and sharing them with me. There was so much said and antidotes added. I distilled so much of our interview in the interest of time and energy. After 2 hours I cut him off and thanked him for his time. I paid him and wondered out loud if he would ever pursue a career in writing- perhaps a daily blog 'from the corner?' He asked for my email in case he ever goes high tech. He shared that he enjoyed our time and thought that Australia should issue a postage stamp in my honor. That meant alot.
I came back the next day and gave him the NABLA write up I did on him immediately post interview (its published under the title Homeless Series: What the Hell Number Am I On?). I also gave him a copy of a book I hold dear, the Wisdom of the Enneagram as I suspected he would enjoy it. We said goodbye with a handshake. Believe me, he had just given a good scratch to his genitals so it was the equivalent of a hug. I left so impressed by his optimism in spite of his suffering body. It is something I struggle with- being able to be upbeat when my aches and pains are loudly calling so I am taken when someone can so well.
He has such a rich intellectual and spiritual life but his bodily well-being is so out of balance with this. He clearly has some sort of infestation of bugs and scratches his genitals, bum and legs frequently stretching his sweatpants around as needed for access. He is barefoot and his toenails are half crumbled away and yellow. His belly is distended and he has a hump in the back of his neck. When you see his physical state his life choices are hard to accept. We all feel an ethical call to intervene when we see someone drowning. What looks like drowning to some may be defined as bathing for others…and even if we agree that drowning is occurring do we have the right and really can we take an adult from their desire to precariously tumble in the open sea and force them on our own terms to sit in the shallows of a baby pool? I suspect his family has struggled with this. I suspect we all have had a struggle like this, perhaps even been on both sides of it in some shape or form.
He goes to church every Sunday often times with a friend. He reads 3 newspapers a day. He has a handful of friends and then cursory relationships with another dozen that see him on a regular basis on his corner. He has interesting ideas about tithing and a community's responsibility to do so. I had to really think to understand just what he envisioned when he described his strategy of using bucket brigades to grow his charity. He sees being an agent for conservationism and/or charitable works as a viable role in society and community. His motivations for doing so are only really known in his own heart.
It will be natural for you to read this interview and draw conclusions based on your own life experiences and perspective. There are threads of
Importance, responsibility, limits around community
Middle age and the 1-year-that-turned-into-10 pill that we swallow in it
The profile of stamp collectors
The role of pride
Esoteric occupations like activism and consulting
Roles of males versus females
Love and the interesting and many forms that the expression of it takes
I will refrain from picking up the threads that speak to me and writing a conclusive summary shaped by my points of view. Methinks it's better to leave you to do with the story what you will. I suspect and hope that whatever threads you choose to pull out and tie together from this tale won't wrap just so and will still leave you with a bit of question, a bit of wonder.