He Sleeps In A Park But He Is Happy

A valuable lesson I learned from a homeless man

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My partner and I went for a walk in the park this weekend after a brief respite from the bucketing rain.

Once at the park, we stopped to admire the now overflowing river gushing by. We were mesmerized by the flow of water.

While admiring the river, a young man passed by and warned us of the overflowing sewerage in the park. He joked, laughed and smiled about being careful not to step in the sewer as we may go home smelling a bit.

His smile and laugh were infectious.

His clothes were tattered, his shoes falling apart but his smile was wide and bright. And then he said something that made me sad,

“I sleep in this park. So you know if it rains like this I won’t sleep.”

He said it casually without a hint of shame or sadness. This is his reality. Simply put. He does not have a house. He does not have a warm place to sleep when the rain comes crashing down. He was not looking for sympathy from us, merely making conversation with two passers-by.

I found his happiness, sad. He has so little. He has almost no worldly possessions and yet he seems happy.

I have seen far grumpier people who have a lot more than him.

We have so much yet we always want more. More money, more things, more stuff.

Stuff we don’t need.

If he can be happy living underneath a tree, with very little to his name, I wonder why all of us aren't beaming with smiles as he is.

Because money and material possessions don’t make you happy.

I wonder what he does on the daily.

He probably wakes up in nature and spends the day in nature. He has no internet to mindlessly surf or stuffy office environment to waste the day away.

He does not spend the day on Instagram scrolling mindlessly through other’s lives. He does not spend the day at the shops buying things he does not need.

I am sure that he would love more than anything to have a warm place to sleep and nice clean clothes.

I have no doubt his life is extremely tough and harsh. He probably looked at us with envy.

And yet he looked happy. Perhaps I am naive to think he is happy. There are many days he must struggle and find life unbearable. His life must be a constant battle for mere survival.

And yet for a moment, I envied him and his untethered existence. He seemed so carefree and outside the bounds of society. Like he was his own person. He is not a victim to this rat race of more and more that we are. His only concern is surviving to the next day.

I remarked to my partner as we walked away,

“Maybe having less makes you happier. Because we have so much and yet we always want more.”

I want to live a life with less. Fewer hours spent at the office, fewer hours spent staring at the internet, fewer hours spent shopping for needless items, fewer hours spent complaining about the small things we take for granted.

We are extremely privileged and live in a country where so many are not. We should be happier with less.

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” ~ Socrates

I am a Lawyer, Writer, Reader and Traveller. From Johannesburg, South Africa. I am writing to find my voice. Fortune favours the brave.

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