"In a world where many spend themselves in efforts to gain recognition, most street people have little desire to become great. Having made their journeys from rags to riches to rags, many are now content to live for the day at hand, and for that alone. I remind myself that there is a hidden greatness in their willingness to be ordinary in a world of many pretensions.

"The lives of street people are mixtures of blessings and curses, hope and despair, wisdom and foolishness. Many of their problems stem from mental illness, addictions, sloth, poor choices, disappointments, disagreements, and emotionally impoverished childhoods. Some of these people are diamonds-in-the-rough, unwilling to be fenced in by protocol, searching for stepping stones to sobriety and newness of life.

"For many, daily activities are whimsical — a visit to a bar or a park, a bull-session here or there, a pause, doing nothing, or lighting up a cigarette. Some sit and chew. They chew and talk and spit and chew. Tobacco juice hits the earth at an angle, rolls in the dust, and comes to rest beneath blades of grass. Onward goes their conversation as they voice their proclamations.

"Some carry things like bottle-tops, candy wrappers, and rubber bands picked up from heaven knows where. Some are capricious, changing from sorrow to joy in an instant, hanging on to humor and trying to make each other laugh.

" 'I may be dumb!' one man will shout, 'But I sure ain't stupid!'

"Some seem to accept their plight, while others drink deeply from cups of sorrow, remaining embittered over countless 'raw deals' handed to them in the past. They speak of having tried and tried and finally having lost the urge to try.

"Some speak of having once worked hard for better things. They tell of their attempts to transform a life of labor into a life of leisure, of somehow having miscalculated when doing so. Engaging in high living, seeking the so-called good life, and experimenting with drugs, they set the stage for their eventual downfall. While hoping for a conjunction of events leading toward instant success, they find themselves camping in obscure forgotten places, sleeping beneath overpasses while the wheels of cars and trucks zoom by only inches above their heads."