During the past week in Miami, we came across some amazing people from all different backgrounds.
Dale is a homeless man that we ran into in the streets of Miami. When we met Dale he was sitting in a grassy area in front of a building I was taking pictures of. He asked me if he was in the way of the photograph and if I wanted him to move? I replied no. He seemed friendly enough so we started a conversation with him. We sat in the grass with him and talked.I asked him what happened to his hand and he explained to me that someone tried to steal his bike. He told me that if he knew that he was going to get injured that he probably would have let them have it. All Dale had was his bike and a tattered plastic bag of clothes attached to it. He told us that he was 73 years old and that one time in his life he was paralyzed. He gave us insight on a time in his life when he was paralyzed, homeless, and hungry how he found work mopping floors in a Chinese restaurant for food. His determination for food got him the job. He went into detail about how he fell out of his wheelchair and he crawled around cleaning every area of the dirty restaurant floor. He explained to us that the first time it took him six hours because the floor was so dirty. The following day it only took him two hours to complete the task. He shared about how the owner of the restaurant didn't give him any special treatment because he was in a wheelchair. "you got out of the chair, you get yourself back in" is what the owner told him when he completed the job. He couldn't physically do it so she helped him once telling him that he needs to learn to do this because there is not always going to be someone there to help him. He eventually learned how to get himself back in the chair. The way he explained it to us as he was there to do a job and she was paying him in food. He was basically on his own and he wasn't going to get help from anyone. Although I never found out how Dale healed from being temporary paralyzation he talked about it for some time. Dale told us stories of how he learned to make art made from palm leaves. He watched another person doing it one day and he taught himself how to do it. The first creation he explained was a fish. Then, he taught himself how to create other pieces. As we sat there talking to him, he created a beautiful grasshopper. He has taught his trade to others, but Dale was truly a master.
As we sat there on a beautiful, sunny, Miami day in February talking to Dale and listening to him share a little bit of his life and his knowledge it occurred to me that he had an amazing spirit for life and a grateful soul. We came across so many different people in Miami, all from different backgrounds and life journeys. Some told us stories of their travels, some told us stories of how they served our country. All were homeless. The one thing that struck me was that all the people that crossed our paths were friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to share stories about a piece of their life. I was inspired by their generosity and lust for life. Most of the people that we came in contact with had little or no possessions, yet they had a passion for life and living it, a deep determination to continue. they seemed happy and full of spirit.