It all started with a bacon sandwich.
Not my own I’m afraid, being Jewish doesn’t allow me to indulge in such a delicacy.
The bacon sandwich was requested by a homeless man I found outside a busy Pret a Manger Cafe in the heart of Silicon Valley in London.
As busy Entrepreneurs lined the streets at 9am. Looking important, accomplished and rushing in their earnest to create the next app, develop a new programme, or simply innovate in ways we could only dream of.
Yet in the midst of this busyness, sat a homeless man on the street with a blanket over his legs. It was a cold morning and he was shivering whilst observing others running towards their none existent future.
No one bothered to take another look at what was in front of their nose.
I wondered if this guy had morphed into a computer, iPad or Iphone, whether they would have paid him more attention.
As I walked past, I couldn’t resist asking him if I could get him a sandwich or a breakfast roll. He looked up, his eyes lit up.
Finally he’s noticed and acknowledged.
I took a moment to reflect on how I’m spending more time speaking to the homeless who line the streets of London. I’m always curious to know how people end up in this way. Surely if one of us was down on our luck we would have relatives who would put us up, give us a place to sleep or a bowl of hot soup.
I’m always curious to know what it takes for someone to start off being at the pinnacle of society or even skimping away at a job and living in a small but cosy flat. Then end up on the streets asking for spare change and looking as if a wash would be the next best step.
The homeless man asked me if I could buy him a bun.
Not just any bun, but the bacon bun. He knew exactly where it was in Pret a Manger since he could see it from the large display window across from where he sat outside. The food was all visible to him. So near and yet so far.
He asked if he could have it heated up and licked his lips at the prospect of tucking in.
I bought him the bun and walked up to him and asked him ‘Are you Irish?’
His eyes lit up and a smile punctuated his features.
I believe even the bacon bun was not enough excitement as being asked about himself, his background and where he comes from.
As he spoke to me about how he arrived from Ireland a few years ago, he suddenly did something that took my breath away.
In fact it brought tears to my eyes.
He lifted the blanket that was draped on his legs to reveal a large dog cuddling up to him.
This had previously not been visible to me at all.
The man explained with sadness that the night before, the police had threatened to take his dog away, and he pleaded with them to let him keep his dog.
It was clear to me that this dog was clinging onto this man for dear life.
Interestingly enough, the dog experienced his owner as a source of security, comfort and joy. Even though they have nowhere to live, nor prospects at present to speak of.
He continued “I need to sort myself out for my dogs sake, she needs me”.
Talk about a clear Intention and Purpose.
This man had found his purpose for survival, for getting himself off the streets and into a more secure situation. Watching the tenderness he showed towards his dog brought tears to my eyes.
I watched as the busyness in the street increased, yet people missing what was in front of their nose. They missed the beauty of humanity, the care, love and attention that we can feel for another being.
We need to open our eyes more, look at the world fully and see beneath what is presented to us. Failing this, we run the risk of living a life half lived, of missing what is around us every day.
Change what you habitually do as you navigate through the streets. Take an interest in others, reach out mercilessly, connect and care more than you’ve ever dared to. Do so with a fearless and open heart. Your smile, greeting or response could make an enormous difference to the person you gift this to.
If this article resonated with you, you can read more chapters like this in my latest book ‘Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living‘ available on Amazon.