Skip to content

Opinion: Bill Walton, Homeless

Things will be much better in the new digs on Chippewa – especially come winter
20200803 tracks walton

Most of us are fortunate not to have been torn from our homes by war, pestilence, hunger, or anger, but even so, some of us never do find a home. I, of course, am not thinking about a building where we can eat and lay ourselves safely down to sleep surrounded by our stuff in a COVID-closed arena.

Things will be much better in the new digs on Chippewa – especially come winter.

Many of us need the comforting presence of family and friends and simply cannot adapt to other environments. Yet sometimes, even the strong ties of blood are not enough to overcome misunderstandings and mistakes.

Sometimes it just seems better to be alone – homeless for a time. Personally, I doubt if I could have made it living on the streets, in doorways and under cardboard, hungry, wet, cold, and alone. Now, in my senior days, I do not want to even contemplate it.

If home is a place, then the foundation of my home would be the places where I feel I could have belonged in the past. It is a sense that I could have lived and enjoyed life in the shadow of the Acropolis during the birth of our western civilization in Greece or walked in the glory days of Rome near Pont du Gard or Nimes.

I would have loved to have passed my days in Florence during the Renaissance or even shared a room on the left bank in Paris in the early days of the last century. I could have been at home listening to a new composition of Mozart played for the first time in one of the grand old opera houses.

Home for me is all those great moments in time of our history that gives me the foundation for today.

If home is a place, then my walls would be constructed of memories of standing in the cathedral forest on Vancouver Island; looking out over Georgian Bay from a hilltop in Killarney; poking through a cave in Mexico; wandering through the sagebrush in Nevada; sitting on a quiet bay in Temagami; standing at the top of Maui in awe of the vast volcanic remains.

My roof would be constructed of places where I can feel a sense of belonging with nature, listening to birds, snorkelling with little coloured fishes, feeding a chipmunk more peanuts than it needs, watching the approach of a distant thunderstorm, catching snowflakes on my tongue.

My furnishings would consist of standing in front of Renoir’s Boating Party painting or trying to understand Salvador Dali in the St Petersburg Museum; listening to Gould’s Goldberg Variations; lost in the wonderful pages of Gabriel Garcia Marquez; or wondering about the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Of course, your home would be constructed of different foundations, walls, and ceilings than mine. Your life experiences would be hung on your walls, cherished for your own reasons.

But home is more than a place. Home is sitting and talking to friends over a campfire or around the card table with a bottle of good wine.  Home is dancing with my wife, golfing with the guys, or zipping around corners on my motorcycle. Home is casting a fishing line with a chance of landing a fish. Home is gathering with siblings or old friends and reliving memories. Home is with my life-mate and our offspring no matter where we hang our hats.

To me home is not a place; it is a sense of my being.  And perhaps that is why some of us are ‘homeless’ - we have lost, or not yet found, our own sense of being - of what we are or can become. For some of us, we will spend our whole lifetime looking for that home, that sense of being.

Some will never find it. Or perhaps we will simply not have recognized that we were ‘home’ all the while.

Those of us who do have homes, rented or owned, ought to try, through our taxes or donations, to help those who are ‘homeless’. Sometimes we all need a helping hand to build our ‘home’.


Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Read more