“My name is Gregg, but people call me Top-Heavy,” said the man with a long goatee and flowing hair that reminds you of Sammy Hagar. My name isn’t because of my body type, it just a name that has stuck through the years.” “Apparently, there is a clothing line by the same name, so I like to pretend it is mine,” he said smiling and laughing with a voice horse and raspy from years spent yelling into microphones in smoky clubs.

Top-Heavy is a drummer. He has played with 21 different bands over the last 20 years. He has toured the world playing in Scandinavia, mainland Europe, and Asia with bands such as Alice In Chains. He was on tour 6 months ago, when disaster struck. He was walking down the stairs where someone had dropped ice, Top-Heavy slipped and tumbled down the stairs. He shattered both bones in his left leg, and compound fractured his left arm and wrist. A possible career ending accident.

It took all of his savings, and a number of IOU’s to get his leg mended. He is still on crutches, and his arm and leg are still in casts. His mother, father, and all but one brother are deceased. As such, he had no one on whom he could rely. So, he did what he had to while his leg heals…he took to living in the park.

There is a large park in Eugene called Alton Baker park. It is wooded, near the river, and essentially safe for people who have no place to go. On any given night you can find 10-50 people living/camping in the park. People like top heavy who have no money and nowhere to go.

Yesterday, I was able to give canned food to Top-Heavy, Phillip, Todd, and Scott. Some might say that they are just freeloaders. Not contributing members of society. Some might say that they have well rehearsed sad songs to tell to people like me. Stories intended to illicit from me my compassion, favors, and perhaps money.

So.

Does that make it any less reasonable to be kind? Does it make it any less reasonable to love, to help, and to share? What did it take for me to share some canned food? What did it take for me to draw this beautiful man’s portrait, what did it take for me to listen to him, and what did it take for me to care?

Were I in his shoes, would I not desire the same?

This is what it is to love your neighbor as yourself, treat them as you would wish to be treated—with compassion, interest, and respect.

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