Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Life of Hardin Vol. IV, No. 25

If I Was a Poor Man

I never gave much thought to the idea that I might be homeless one day. I never had to worry about it, or ever doubted that I would have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a good pair of fingernail clippers. Lately, however, I have given myself over to a fair amount of worry about it.

There are many people in Paraguay who live with little or no shelter from the elements. Their meager income results from either begging at street corners or washing car windshields with dirty rags. I see them every day, scores of them. I never knew so many destitute existed in the world. My hometown had a total of one that I ever knew. No one knew for certain his real name. Some guessed it was Douglas Kirkpatrick, but we all called him Cool Breeze. He refused to take any handout. If you offered him a ride, he would curse at you and say if he wanted to ride, he would buy a car. It is a wonderful country where the homeless can buy cars if they want.

However, after leaving that environment for this, I began to see just how easy it might be to become homeless. I got worried. I looked up numbers. Some estimates put the homeless rate in South America at 50%. Statistically, either I or my wife should be homeless. I also began to worry just what caused homelessness. Was it genetic? My father at one time wanted to be a hobo. Though he claims he idolized the freedom and travel of a hobo, I still say it is a fancy way to say “bum.” Might I one day be seized by this same urge to ride rail cars and smoke the stubs of cigars with a toothpick?

At this point the circumstance feels too possible to ignore. Accordingly, I have given much deliberation to what I would do. First, I think I would live in South America. The United States has too many job opportunities, and homelessness is given a bad name because of it. South America is not that way. It is much more respectable. Also the climate in South America is more conducive to being homeless. Without a house it would be difficult to find warmth in times of cold, and therefore I would find the warmest climate around, maybe right on top of the equator. Many homeless, I believe, have already discovered this, as indicated by the large numbers of them on the southern continent.

Next, I would prioritize my life. Warmth being taken care of, food would come next. I have heard a number of people complain about the hygiene habits of the homeless-- they don’t take baths, they don’t use deodorant, they have bad teeth, they just don’t take care of themselves. I feel it is not so much a question of self-hygiene or self-respect as it is one of priorities. With limited funds, food is priority one. You can’t eat a stick of Old Spice deodorant, and I would rather be smelly than hungry. Along with the food I would buy hand sanitizer. I have to eat, and I can’t do that if my hands are grubby. Any money I had left over would then go to a toothbrush and toothpaste so that I could continue to eat, then to toilet paper, then to clothing when needed (although my ingenious decision to live in the tropics lessens the need for much clothing), and so on, down the list of hygiene articles.

That’s about it. Pretty simple. But I do think I would take Cool Breeze’s suggestion and buy a car. I think I’d get tired of walking, and it would keep my shoes from wearing out.


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