This week I was lucky enough to go to an event hosted by Lyrix Organix at the incredible Dalston Roof Park. It’s funny, there’s something that feels so magical about an evening spent on a rooftop for me. It’s probably because a little part of me feels like I’m not really meant to be there – so the rebel within me is happy.
Some of the most spiritually significant events I have been to in the past 3 years have been put on by Lyrix Organix. Events based on lyrical creativity, in many different forms, where I got absorb a diverse array of artistic talents, and took a huge amount of inspiration. Aside from events that span street, field and rooftop, they are also an organisation who do an incredible amount of work with young people.
This time we were all there to see ‘Time Is Illmatic’ by One 9, a brilliant documentary about a young man named Nasir Jones (you may have heard of him haha) and his upbringing in Queensbridge. If you haven’t already seen this film – watch it – simple as that.
Prior to the movie we got to see Chester P flex his spoken word skills, then a Q and A with both him and Jonzi D, the creative genius behind Breaking Convention.
Amidst this incredible line of up brilliance though, there is something that has occupied my thoughts ever since, and that is something that Chester P was kind enough to point out to us all. That is the art of kindness and it’s incredible importance.
I pride myself on being kind as often as I am able. I see the link between the level of kindness I inject into my social interactions and what I get in return. You get out what you put in. If you don’t believe me – go into a coffee shop and be rude, and you will, 9 times out of 10, get that reflected right back. Go into the same coffee with a beautiful smile, and a genuine care for the person serving you, and you will find that not only do they radiate that beauty back to you – but I’m sure your coffee will taste even more delicious. There’s something magical in the world when people do things with love, and that’s what you will be tasting. If I ever catch myself being less than kind, I take the time to reflect on why that is, and make sure that I catch it before others feel it.
But what Chester was talking about was something that I hadn’t even considered. He was talking about homelessness, and what it truly means to be homeless.
I know many people who have been ‘homeless’, I was one of them for 8 months post divorce. But I was never without the love and kindness of my family and friends. They sheltered me physically, mentally and spiritually whilst I weathered my own tempestuous storm. For that I will be eternally grateful.
What Chester was talking about though, was next level homelessness. Homelessness that means sleeping rough, going hungry and generally being demoralised on a daily basis. He referred to the difficulty of people when they leave prison, having been institutionalised, and the difficulties that those people face when trying to re-integrate with society. For homeless people though, he told us, what happens to them is they become OUT-statutionalised. What this means is; because they feel so separate and outside of day to day society, they see no reason or means to get back in.
I had never considered this.
He told us about a time when he hugged a woman and she broke down in tears, and she told him it was the first time another human had touched her in 7 years. Wow. Just wow. I can’t even begin to imagine how that must feel.
What Chester was telling us all to do, was not necessarily to give what we don’t have, financially speaking, he was telling us all to give the one thing we can give for free that carries the most value in the world – our time.
My mum once said the same to me; the most generous gift that you can ever give a person is your time. And she’s right. And so is Chester.
He was simply telling us to stop; acknowledge this human being, spend some time with them, ask how they are doing, have a simple conversation.
I have always felt a sense of sadness when I see people ignore the presence of another human being altogether; when they ask them if they want to buy the Big Issue, or if they can spare a little change. A simple no thank you would suffice.
But what we need to now is even more than that. What if we all pushed ourselves to go a little further, show people a little love and attention and take up Chester’s crusade? What if we show them we see them, and that we want them to be a part of our world – because we are them and they are us?
By showing people that they have value to us and that they matter, there’s a chance we could give them the desire to keep trying to help themselves. Those small acts of kindness could indeed add up to become the catalyst that makes them want to get to know us all again too. That’s got to be worth a go right?