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Tim initially hesitated, “None of my stories can be articulated into words.” Instead of pushing him further, we were open to discuss how he found his niche in the Downtown Eastside community. Tim eventually opened up to us, recalling his hitchhike across Canada after abandoning higher education.

“Freedom is not something you find. You just are free. It's not something you have, it's a ‘beingness’. Travelling is a means of letting go of everything. I was consumed by finding a job, girlfriend, prosperity. It’s always stuff and things. In the end I still wasn't free.”

Tim’s journey ended off with an epiphany. He came to a realization alone in the forest, with nothing but the clothes on his back and his sleeping gear.

“When you let go of everything, you realize the only thing left is you. And you start to become free.”

The words he conveyed rung with much truth and sincerity. His journeys in his life had really shaped him and his values.

After traversing across Canada, Tim found himself coming back to Vancouver. Above all, he missed the humidity and life that the Vancouver rain could provide nowhere else.

“I feel a more substantial happiness, deeply seeded inside. It's made me a happy person inside and I've never been a happy person inside before.”

But no matter the circumstance, “You have who you are inside. You can still be happy.”

Simon's Reflection

Stigma surrounding those living on the streets commonly pervades the mindset of well-to-do citizens like ourselves. But after listening to their stories today made us realize how much they have persevered through the challenges in their life. It’s really inspiring to see how those on the streets still are pursuing their dreams and not letting anything hold them back. Our conversation with Tim showed us how, through intrinsic motivation, you can achieve and learn anything you want to. Even quantum physics and philosophy, subjects Tim liked to absorb himself in. In today's day and age, we rely so much on extrinsic motivation in school through grades, professors, parents. We need reassurance and rewards in order to learn. His way of learning reminds us to pursue the things you love and to delve deep in knowledge for personal benefit and nothing else.

Like Tim said, you’ll always have who you are inside. Nothing from the outside can inherently make you happy - only the way you interpret it. Happiness is difficult to seek, especially if you look for it in the outside world, where things come and go. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to find, and may not come in the shape or form that you envision it to be.

©2020 by Humanitarian Organization for Providing Empowerment. 

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