Lenten Reflections: The Frailty of Life – Remembering Beau

beau

This Lenten season started off yesterday with Ash Wednesday, and for me with some very saddening news about a friend of mine.  It was confirmed to me last night, as I was driving to work, that my good friend from Nickelsville, Aaron “Beau” Beaucage, had died earlier in February.   Beau had left Nickelsville just after New Years Day in the hopes of pursuing a job opportunity in California.  He left unexpectedly, and there was not much information on exactly where he went or specifically what for.  While in CA, the work opportunity did not pan out and Beau continued to struggle with depression daily, as he hoped to be with his daughter and his girlfriend in Indonesia, but could not afford to get there.  He apparantly died in his sleep somewhere around the first of February.  The actual cause of his death is unknown at this time.  I can’t help but wonder, had he been here, around friends, would his death had even happened; had he had friends to walk through his depression and come along side of him through that hard time.  I am deeply saddened by this loss as I had developed a great relationship with Beau over the four months that I knew him.  We had numerous conversations about many different things and I believe we connected on many levels, especially in the ways we viewed people and the world around us.

Beau also was an incredible poet, writing numerous poems about life and the struggles it contains, and I had the privilege of experiencing many of them.  We had lots of conversations about the art of poetry and lyrics.  He challenged me to write songs from his poetry and so I did.  I quickly took two of his poems and wrote songs from them, which I still play frequently at Nickelsville, and they have become anthems.  We talked often about our ideas of the poetry book that Beau wanted to publish and the (quasi-fictional) story of Onus Lumins, (which was Beau’s pen name) who was a truck driver who would place his poetry books in the restrooms at truckstops to counter all the negative graffiti on the walls with positive, creative and inspiringly artistic poetry.  He wanted to write a book about that story and we even discussed a movie, where some traveling musicians find the poetry book and start writing music to the poems and the two combined cause the musicians to become highly successful, while all the while searching to find the artist that created such amazing lyrics.  

Beau was an amazing guy, who ended up homeless after the trucking industry became too expensive to survive because of rising gas prices and while trying to go out on a fishing boat, missed the opportunity because of a slowdown in the industry.  He had only been homeless for about 6 months when he ended up at Nickelsville and I met him.  We made an instant connection and he was on my heart often.  Maybe it was the convergence of two artists that drew us together, or maybe the deep conversations we had that intrigued us both, or maybe it was just God’s leading… for whatever reason, he had a huge affect on my life and I know I had an affect on his.  He was a huge catalyst in changing the way I viewed ‘the homeless’.  He was the one that challenged me to come and live in Nickelsville, and when I stayed there before New Years, I spent most of my time with him.  He introduced me to “Flight of the Conchords” (look it up :), and when I was staying there, each night we hung out in his tent until 3am, talking and watching episodes on the laptop, that he was given so that he could write and post and print all of his poetry.  

I remember sitting in Trabant coffee shop in U District, with Beau and Dustin and some others from the camp, having conversations about many things.  I remember him telling me ‘it’s never to late to do anything you want to… there is always a way to do what you really want to do and make things happen, regardless of how old you get… it’s never too late!”  That was one of the last conversations we had together.  His words were inspiring… our conversations were intriguing.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have known him and shared in his life, if even for a short time.  

His words will live on through his poetry, of which I have a small collection of.  I wish that I had access to his whole collection… I would make sure that they would be published somewhere for all to experience… that is exactly what he would have wanted to happen with his poetry.  It would be beautiful to be able to use his poetry to raise money to help support places like Nickelsville and efforts to advocate for the ‘homeless’.  I will pursue writing and completing a full album of his words with my songs and record it for everyone to hear.  His story and his advocacy for the homeless problem will continue to fuel me in my efforts to change ‘homelessness’ and change the way people think about my friends that live outside.

So as I reflect on the memories of Beau, I am reminded of the frailty of life… and how important it is to make the best of every opportunity… to love others as you love yourself and let others do the same for you.  This is the stuff that changes lives in this fragile world we live in.  I will miss Beau terribly, but his memory will live on… I know I will do my part to make that happen.  I will probably post more about Beau in the weeks to come, but for now I will close with this clip of the video he made of himself reciting one of my favorite poems of his “Nothing is Meaningless”, which is also one of the poems I put to music.  

Beau, you will be greatly missed!!

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the story of Nickelsville…continued

well the story of nickelsville is definitely one that has it’s up’s and down’s… mostly downs it seems from the perspective of the media and mayor Nickels, who’s continuing threat and personal agenda to put an end to Nickelsville once and for all, has been chasing them out of every location they have popped up in.  

What is Nickelsville? http://www.nickelsvilleseattle.org/nickelsvillefordummies

Well it is much more than a ‘tent city’ as some would call it.  On the contrary it is a vision… a vision to make a better living for many who have no place to go and can’t afford housing in the area.  the idea started because of the 15% increase in the number of homeless people in Seattle, along side of the mayor making it illegal to sleep out in public and coming through and sweeping homeless camps out of the city.  There are not enough beds for all the homeless, and there is no affordable housing, so the homeless have no place to go and the vicious cycle that they find themselves in, when trying to sleep in shelters, keeps them from ever moving forward… it perpetuates their dilemma.  

Think of how difficult it would be to hold a steady job with a steady income, when your living situation changes regularly, or when you have to struggle to find food or water, or find a bed or shower.  Even the tent-cities, which give them a little more stability, have to move very 2-3 months and so keeps them from establishing any real consistency where they can start to get a footing and make a change in their situations.  And the mayor is not exactly excited about tent-cities either, it’s just that there is not really anything he can do about them.

There is a great ‘speech’ on the matter of homelessness in the city and the need for Nickelsville here!

Also check this out for more info on why Nickelsville should happen!

So Nickelsville is now at its fourth location, after being chased from it’s prior three in the last four weeks by the city.  It is currently in a parking lot in the University District of UW, owned by Universtiy Christian church.  They hope to stay there until the first of the year.  Since being there, the church has been threatened with fines for allowing them to stay yet they have ignored the cities threats.  It is still uncertain how long they will be able to stay there and may have to move again soon.  

 

I have had numerous opportunities to hang out with my friends in Nickelsville, sharing my music and my words with them and have been quite moved by their sense of community, love for each other, and how organized they are and such a diverse group of people.  They have one over-arching commonality… they have no home.  No one understands what they go through like themselves.  The mayor doesn’t know, I don’t know, most of you who may be reading this don’t know.  What amazes me is that those who are completely outside of their situation are the ones judging their situation and making rules against their situation without ever experiencing or participating in their situation.  

I am humbled when I am with them.  My experiences with them has made me ever aware of how much I have prioritized the want in my life for things which have no significance.  I have pursued the ‘finer things in life’ and completely taken for granted my warm home, my warm bed and blankets, my hot food, my cold water… all at my disposal… while my brothers and sisters go hungry, thirsty, cold and bed-less on the streets.  Yet we are the ones who think we can judge them and their situation… we are the ones who think we have all the answers to their problems.  

So I stand up for Nickelsville, because I see the grand vision… to build a safe, self-sustaining community where people in need can live without fear, and begin to build a life for themselves, with the help of a community of others who want to do the same help others do the same as well.  

I stand up for Nickelsville because I know their names and their stories.  They are my friends… they care for me and I for them.  They have welcomed me with open arms into their community.  I have shared my music with them, and they have shared their lives with me and I am changed because of it

I stand up for Nickelsville because I am awed by the sense of love and community that many others only dream of.  Sure they have problems, sure they have issues… who doesn’t?  We just have so much stuff to cover up our issues and our problems… they don’t have that… they are laid bare, on display for the world to see, and so we judge them because of it.  

Yet, we ourselves are just like them… we have the same basic human needs.  Will you stand with me to support Nickelsville?  Please join the support Nickelsville group and cause on Facebook!

http://www.nickelsvilleseattle.org

creating a new blog

i am in the process of creating a new blog here… so stay tuned for some new entries… in them meantime, you can see all my older entries from my previous blog below.  thanks!