I’m currently with 2 friends in Thessaloniki and want to share the story of 3 encounters with different beggars we’ve had here, and what we can learn from it.
One beggar was an aggressive hustler, a young boy who probably was forced to work for a gang.
One beggar was an proud old man who was selling pencils, who said that he’s currently out of work and wants to make an income.
One beggar was an apologetic old lady full of sorrow that kept telling pitiful stories.
In today’s episode, I share how each beggar moved us in a different way, and conveyed a different lesson about ourselves.
3 Beggars in Thessaloniki
This is the story of three beggars in Thessaloniki.
[00:00:04] So, um, I’ve been in the city now for eight days.
[00:00:09] So when you walk around the city of Thessaloniki, you will inevitably encounter people that are begging for money, and you will encounter all kinds of different types of beggars in the city. And you won’t just encounter all kinds of different baggers. You will encounter all kinds of different responses to them and reactions to that because anytime somebody he’s walking through, let’s say restaurant to restaurant restaurant, there’s lots of streets in Thessalonikki with, you know, one coffee shop or one bar or one restaurant next to the other whole neighborhoods full of bars and restaurants.
[00:00:50] And when these beggars go through these, you will see kind of a wave of different responses to these characters appearing. And asking for money for people, you’ll find all kinds of different types of responses from the people. Some are very aggressive, some are just ignoring like the practice. The, I will pretend you don’t exist if you just stand right in front of me talking to me, I would just treat you like air.
[00:01:19] And there’s the aggressive ones that will bark at the beggars to, you know, beat it. Then there are the ones that are apologetic about not helping. Right. They’ll they’ll look at them. They’ll nod their shoulders. Yeah. We’ll we’ll lock down and they’ll apologize. Sorry, but no, I can’t help it. And then there are the ones that are helping, which is very, very rare that we’ll give them some money, but that’s very rare, but most of the reactions are somewhere in the spectrum between ignoring, treating like air being aggressive, fighting them off, barking them off.
[00:01:54] Or being apologetic for not helping. That’s kind of 95% of all the responses they’re getting. And also from the beggars, you’ll get all kinds of different vibes. You’ll get the, you know, the very kind of apologetic that I’m begging. I’m sorry that I’m inconveniencing you, but I’m in need. Can you please give me something then?
[00:02:13] There’s the, um, the more graphic? Yes. If a type that is pushing and trying to use some tricks. To engage people in conversation if they don’t want to, then there’s the more desperate, uh, there’s all kinds of different vibes to it, but there’s always conflict. When somebody shows up what a beggar shows up at a, at a bar at a coffee shop at a restaurant going from table to table, there’s always some sort of conflict, even when there’s no conflict, there’s conflict.
[00:02:45] There is. Tension right. For both parties, the person that’s begging, but also the people that are being bagged too. I want to talk about three encounters with different baggers that we had over the last three days. The first encounter with a bagger that we had was with a little hustling boy. And we saw that there were a couple of children that were begging going from table to table.
[00:03:14] That didn’t bagging there were offering, um, I think tissues, they were selling tissues and we talked about kind of the dynamic and the mafia behind it and how it’s organized in Greece and how these children are being used even worse. So sometimes you see these mothers that there, this is everywhere in Europe, everywhere in the world, probably by new Europe, in many places.
[00:03:38] You’ll see these mothers with very small children, two year old, three year olds. That are asleep, you know, in their arms. And there will be, they’ll be bagging. I need food for my child, but then when you learn more, you learn about this kind of criminal enterprise behind it. These men that are using these mothers and children that are giving them drugs, especially the children.
[00:03:59] So they sleep all night, all day. And so they’re using that image to elicit more money, but the money is not going to the child. It’s not going to the mother. It’s going to some kind of criminal enterprise behind the scenes. And this is very much true anywhere children are involved. There’s usually adult men that are using them as workers and taking advantage of them.
[00:04:22] So there’s conflict, right? There’s a child. Who would you rather, there is nobody who would rather help than a child in need, but then, you know, this child is being used by somebody. So giving that child money is not really giving the child money. It’s giving the adult money. But then it’s still the child that is asking you.
[00:04:41] So this is like there’s conflict there. So the first day there’s this hustling boy. And that boy, you can tell how there’s all layers of harshness that the world that this boy is living in is very harsh. So that boy had to grow into becoming very harsh, hard to survive. The boy was very aggressive with us.
[00:05:05] Maybe he was like, Eight years old, eight, nine years old. And the way he approached our table, the way he tried to convince us to purchase this box of tissues for a couple of years from him was very aggressive. And when we were, when we were giving him the nice, but no, we won’t buy it. Sorry, vibe. Right? We didn’t ignore him.
[00:05:32] We weren’t aggressive towards him. We had the more kind of apologetic vibe. He was very aggressive around that, because that is a signal that these people feel bad for not giving me anything. So maybe if I push them harder, I can get something out of them. That will be, I think, a reasonable signal. And that’s the way I observed him reacting to it.
[00:05:50] So when we were apologetic and nice to him, he got more aggressive. Then let us too try to be nice, but really explain that we’re not going to buy, which made him be more aggressive, which let us to escape. By ignoring now. Right? We’re like, all right. The nice thing is only made him more convinced he can get money out of us.
[00:06:12] We really don’t want to give him money right now. We don’t feel like this would be anything good that would happen to him. So we’ll have to move to the ignoring part. And eventually he got angry at us for ignoring him and he left, probably cursing us in some way. He, in some language I didn’t understand, but it sounded very much like, and that was interesting because that.
[00:06:34] You know, now took over the table and a Headspace and create a conversation. So we started talking about the way he approached us. We started talking about the man that are exploiting this boy. And in first there was anger on our table for these men. And then there was another layer that we went to that was talking about, well, these men probably also have been raised in very harsh environments.
[00:07:04] And have become very hard, you know, hurt people, hurt people. Cool. And in this case, people that have suffered a lot and have been endured and used up, they grew up and they feel fine using others. Like they’ve just become much harder man than we are. And so we’re talking about the, the balancing act of having some level of empathy, even for the worst criminals on earth.
[00:07:32] In my mind adult man that are taking advantage of little children, like there’s nothing worse than that. Having some level of empathy for them, but at the same time, fighting them in the reality, like being able to find that balancing act to be understanding this person is only. So terrible because terrible things have happened to this person.
[00:07:56] But in this reality, I can’t forgive everybody in this world after fight evil, after fight people that are doing bad things to others. If I can, in whatever ways I have. But I can’t get lost in the illusion that there’s good and bad, and that I am better than these people. These people are kind of inherently evil, no matter what environment they would have grown up with.
[00:08:18] There’s no reason or context to their actions there is, but that doesn’t excuse it, or that doesn’t make it something that I shouldn’t be fighting in this world like that. So we started talking about that and we started talking about the uneasiness we had. Arriving here for the first day. Still not kind of used to being begged to in this aggressive way from a child that it created, this, this uneasiness, this inner conflict.
[00:08:48] What do I do now? I want to give this kid some money, but I really don’t want to support these adults that are exploiting that kid. I want to be nice to the child, but being nice will only emboldened that child to be aggressive towards me. There was conflict in the, in the table. So that was a very interesting experience.
[00:09:05] The next day later in the day we went, um, eating and we had like, uh, some food at a small corner store. There’s an older man that’s showing up and older beggar and he had his hands full of pencils. Now approached our table and we’re just paid. So this circumstance that played into this, we’re just paid and I just gotten.
[00:09:32] Um, some small change from the waiter. The small change just got into my pocket and this older gentleman, this older Beggar’s approaching our table. Any says, guys, I’m not a beggar. I’m an old man that doesn’t have work anymore. I just trying to make a living. Why don’t you just collectively buy one pencil just for one Euro and make my day better and help me put food on the table.
[00:10:09] And I look at him and I say, listen, I, no. And he sounded like a man that was doing this on his own, like that was just buying pencil somewhere and going table his way to try to earn, to make an earnest living. So. I looked at him and I said, listen, we don’t need pencils, but here are four euros. I have four years in my pocket took yeah, four years.
[00:10:36] I wish you, well, he had, he was selling, I don’t know a pencil for, I don’t know, very little. I’m not sure what even asked, but when I do, yeah, you mean the full year years he had like five pencils in his, in his hand, he threw the five pencils on our table and he screamed. You were who I was waiting for today.
[00:10:57] God damn it. Yes. Finally, I can go home and it takes the four euros it’s like, bless you. And yet he was both celebrating, but he was both enraged. Like he actually like made the other two guys at the table that don’t speak Greek, like scared for a little second, just like in the explosion of his emotions.
[00:11:19] And he leaves us. And I had to explain to my friends would just happen. They’re like, what did he say? Why was he so angry? I was just like, he was just like, you were what was waiting for all day. Finally, he can go home. Fuck. Yeah, bless you. It was kind of a, a wild celebration of sorts and that felt kind of good.
[00:11:41] I felt good about it. I was like, I don’t need those four pencils, but I felt good. Giving this guy such a great moment. And does that felt like that felt nice and meaningful?
[00:11:55] One of my friends looks at me and says, this guy will never forget this moment. This moment will be in this guy’s memory for life. Like we change the sky day. He will think about this at night. He will tell the story. This was such a powerful moment for him. And I agree. Until the next morning when we’re at another coffee shop, I mean breakfast and the old painful beggar showed up.
[00:12:24] Alright, the old pencil man. And he approaches our table. And as he approaches our table is like smiling and saying, Oh, our, our new friend is approaching us probably to chit chat. And as he approaches us, he says, Hey guys, I’m not a bagger. I’m just a, an old man. Try to make an earnest living. Why don’t you collect?
[00:12:48] If we put money together, just buy one off pencils. I could put food on the table. He just does his normal pitch. And I say to him, my friend, I bought all your pencils yesterday. I don’t need more pencils. And he explodes in that moment and says, well, I didn’t ask you about yesterday. I just asked you if you want to buy a pencil right now, if you don’t want just say it.
[00:13:16] And I looked at the number, I said, relax, I didn’t attack you. I don’t want to buy a pencil today. We said, well, that’s fine. Then just say it. And you just kept moving. And my friends were like, what the fuck? That just happened? Why didn’t this guy scream at us? The expectation was that he would be like my friend yesterday, you did this great thing.
[00:13:39] I will forever cherish this moment and you and my heart, and you changed my day yesterday and all that, but we were all surprised that he didn’t remember us at all at all. And he got angry for me telling him I already bought pencils yesterday. And as I was telling it to my friends, I’m like, well, this guy.
[00:14:00] Seems to me like somebody that has a lot of pride that has never been a homeless person or a beggar, and doesn’t seem self that way. And this is the first thing he says at every table that he goes, he tells people, I am not a banker. Don’t see me this way. I don’t want to, I see myself this way. Okay. And this probably has a lot of anger amp up, so he just let it out.
[00:14:25] It has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with us. This as well as an exchange, our expectation that we did this amazing thing, that he will forever remembers how childish, right. It’s kind of funny that we had that expectation who knows how many rejections or how much often he gets like he does this probably for eight, nine hours a day.
[00:14:45] You need so many people. Why would he remember? We only see one pencil man, old pencil man, every day, but he sees. Thousands of young douchey, whatever middle aged men at coffee tables, having breakfast, the expectation that he would remember that that’s interesting. That’s an interesting expectation to have the expectation that he would be grateful is another interesting expectation that he would have.
[00:15:12] And I have to tell you, I could see how one would be upset about that interaction, because when you think about when we are giving to others, It’s a very selfish act. It seems selfless, but it’s very selfish because when you give to another person first and forth, yes, you want to help somebody, but you want to help somebody to feel a certain way about yourself, to feel a certain way about the world, right.
[00:15:38] To make somebody feel some way. And then that person see yourself in a certain light. And it’s the light that you want to see yourself in. A benevolent light, a good light. You want people in yourself in that moment to feel like you’re a good human being. You’re a good person. You’re not selfish. You’re humble.
[00:15:56] You’re giving that’s what we want when we give. And I think there’s nothing wrong with that. I think the illusion that we give as a complete selfless act, that’s an illusion. That’s childish. That’s a hallucination. I don’t think that it’s bad to give out of some selfish reasons. I don’t know. I didn’t share the human being that we can do anything, anything, even our child, without it being somewhat selfish of an action.
[00:16:22] Anyways, that interaction, like it was funny. One of my friends at that table was after the old pencil man had left. He was saying like, who, wow, that aggression I didn’t expect. And I need to process this. Like I need to process not feeling aggressive myself or not, because that didn’t feel good to me. In this case, in this situation, it was interesting for me to observe.
[00:16:55] And this has to do with a lot of things that are the last couple of weeks. I’ve done so much in a work. I’ve done all these psychedelic retreats at all these spiritual moments and all this like understanding and we’ve recorded these episodes and people will listen to these stories and they’ll be able to put it in context.
[00:17:13] The travels I’ve made before coming to Greece that prepared me or created the context around it for me to not feel that way, because for me, This is maybe be one of the few times, but for me, when he exploded and aggression, I didn’t feel anything in my mind. It was like, this is inside of him. He’s having a very hard time.
[00:17:37] And I felt, honestly, I felt a lot of respect for him because I was like, this guy is so prideful. So incredibly prideful. And despite his pride he’s disciplined enough, determined enough. And he’s pushing himself to attempt to do something, to earn a living, although he hates it. And I just felt a lot of respect and empathy for, for the old pencil men.
[00:18:04] And even, even though he shouted at me, I knew this had nothing to do with me. I, he wasn’t really angry at me, was angry with the world himself, with who knows what, but not with me. It just came out of that moment. So I didn’t feel anything. I just felt like, wow, this guy has so much anger and so much pain and look how he deals with it.
[00:18:27] Every morning he put on his clothes and it goes from table to table and he’s trying to earn a living like I respected him. And that was that the day after we encounter the third beggar, the third bagger is the grieving grandma.
[00:18:48] At this point, we’re having lunch at the poshest restaurant of all of us. Hello, Nikki, the pastas bar restaurant of all of us. We’re having a great time. And then there’s this very old grandma. I mean, she was in her eighties, mid eighties. And she comes to a table and she’s crying. So her energy, her pitch was like, I am a grieving, hurting, very old grandma, and I need your empathy.
[00:19:27] I need your pity to some degree. So she comes to our table and already a table. Is this like, um, this crying. Uh, crying voice and energy to her. She’s already at our table. She was like, I’m so sorry guys, but my daughter died and it’s the 60th day, the six month anniversary of a death and I’m hungry and this and that.
[00:19:58] And she was giving us kind of a very hurting pitch. And I listened to her and at some point she said, all I need is some food, so I can bring food back at home to my nephew. And I say, okay, I want to help you. She came, she’s like, can you give me some money so I can buy some food? And I say, no, I don’t want to give you money, but I want to buy the food for you.
[00:20:26] Would it be okay if. You can order anything you want, you can take it to go and then go home and eat you and your family. I’d love to invite you. Would that be okay for you? And she said yes. And so I asked the, the partial waitress to come over anything. Grandma wants, please give her the cart. And then everything she wants.
[00:20:52] Can you please. Make it and put it to go it’s on my, and put it on my belt, but she can have anything. She want any food she wants. So she says, okay. Okay. So she helps the grandma with selecting a bunch of items from, from the food menu. She orders. Now I invite the grandma to sit at our table and like, wait until the food is ready.
[00:21:13] And she keeps now crying and talking to us about her pain had gone to dine. Um, she blesses us and blesses me a million times. And all of this to me again, it didn’t feel super nice. It didn’t feel really bad. I don’t want to say I was emotional, but it was like, I am grateful if I can truly invite this woman to a good meal.
[00:21:40] That’s great. But I also was like that. Doesn’t make me a hero that doesn’t make me a Saint. And that is not a reason for me to feel amazing. I’m just grateful I can give. And that doesn’t make me significant. Like I’m not, I’m not getting anything out of this other than being grateful, I can help, but I’m also not going to get sucked into her negative energy where, because she was very much like almost giving me this chant of pain.
[00:22:10] Right. Just repeating. You know, I have death in the family. I’m sick, I’m old. I don’t know about this. I don’t know about that. I’m confused. I need this. I need that. My uncle, my neighbor, the daughter that this with so much bad happening to us, we’re cursing. She was giving, she was like in this chair of pain, tell me about all the misfortunes that have happened in her life.
[00:22:33] And I was not willing to feel that pain either. Not because I want it to be harsh, just because I was recognizing, realizing in my world. That this was her pain. And I, and I, I could see that she was having a lot of pain, but I couldn’t see how me feeling also in pain would help her, like me being me joining her suffering would not eliminate her suffering or half of suffering.
[00:23:01] It was just double it. Now. Not only she’s in pain now I would get into the. Into an emotional zone where I would feel in pain and I was ready. I didn’t want to feel in pain and I didn’t want to suffer. There was nothing to suffer about. This woman was suffering. This woman had a hard life, and I was recognizing that and had empathy and love for that.
[00:23:18] And I wanted to, for a moment, share a couple of moments with her and give her something good since that was something I could do for her, but then her chant of pain and suffering. Slightly switched to a chant of more begging. And she started saying, you know, it’s been the 60 days and I have tomorrow to go to the church and I don’t have the money to light a candle.
[00:23:48] And I don’t have the money to buy certain things that you would like after six months of somebody dying in the Greek Orthodox, Orthodox church, there’s all these traditions. You will go to the church and you would do a bunch of things. And these things cost a bit of money. And so she was telling me that she needs money for all of this for tomorrow.
[00:24:10] And her pitch on begging me to give her that money kind of went from her very light pitch. At the beginning tool. I was slightly more aggressive tact and I looked at her and I said, listen, grandma. I love like I’m, I’m happy and grateful that I was able to buy you a meal, you and your family, a meal. I hope that you’re going to enjoy it.
[00:24:38] I wish you really luck, but that is all I want to give you today. And then she kept on for a little bit. She was like, yes, but you know, God bless your soul. Thank you for the food. Thank you for this phase three, that you’re so amazing. You are saying your heart is out of gold. She gave me all this praise.
[00:24:55] And then she was like only 10 years, only 20 years. So I can, the six, my daughter, she was such a beautiful, and this tragic thing happened. And then she was back to the bagging part and I listened to it and I told her again, listen, grandma, the meal is all I, the meal is what I want to give you today. And then the meal arrived and she took it and she thanked us and she blessed us.
[00:25:20] And I, and I thanked her and I wished her well, and she, she moved on. And again, I could totally see myself a year earlier being much more troubled by these three interactions. The hustling boy would have made me angry at the world, angry at those men that are taking advantage of him, angry and enrage.
[00:25:54] This time, I just felt empathy. And I just realized, or I could sense more clearly that some environments on some people are not blessed in growing up in an environment where they can have a softer heart. They grew up in an environment that requires them to have a heart of stone not to die. And so people with, with that kind of an environment, they become adults that create suffering and pain and create another crop of children.
[00:26:24] They grew up with a heart of stone with a heart heart. The old pencil man would have made me angry. Because I would have thought, look, you know, I I’ve given you so much. I gave you way more money than you needed. I didn’t take any, I didn’t want any of your pencils and you you’re this like angry guy at me would dare you be angry at me.
[00:26:47] I helped you yesterday. And you’re shouting at me today would have meant made me angry at him for his lack of gratitude. But this time around. I realized that nothing to do with me, this man is a man again and hurt and pain and with pride and he has anger and rage at the world. That itself has nothing to do with me.
[00:27:13] I gave him what I was ready and willing to give him. And if he, the next day didn’t remember, it was angry at me. For me reminding him. Right. He might be right. Like who the hell are you to tell me yesterday? You bought some pencils. Who the fuck do I know who buy some pencils? What do you think that you’re that significant that you have to tell me about this?
[00:27:32] Remind me of this. He was right. I didn’t have a problem with that. The grieving grandma would have it make me feel like a fool, like somebody that was. Lured into a game. Look, I thought I’m so smart. I’m just going to buy you food instead of giving you money, because I don’t know what you’re going to do with the money.
[00:27:53] So I’m going to buy you food cause food, you cannot sell. You can buy alcohol drugs. You cannot do anything evil with it. But look, you saw me giving you food is weakness. You’re like, this is just, this is the bait and switch. This is the first step in my fund. Conversion funnel. You gave me food. Now I’m gonna ask you for something slightly more.
[00:28:14] And I’m going to give you a reason why you can’t just buy it, but you have to give me money and maybe it was the truth. Maybe it wasn’t her game. I don’t know. I don’t know the lady, I don’t know her life. So maybe it was just the truth. It was the six month anniversary of a daughter dying and she needed to go to the, um, To the church.
[00:28:35] And she saw that I had a good heart. I was at least willing to give her something. So she asked for me to help her with it. Maybe that one, it was the truth. Maybe it was just a story. And I was just a conversion funnel, some idiot, soft, um, person that you was trying to get as much out of as she put. And as she should, right.
[00:28:52] There are such few people that are willing to give her something. When somebody wants to give her something she needs to try to get as much as you can out of that person, that would be the logical move. That would have made me angry at myself for being foolish enough to give, to being soft enough to give.
[00:29:08] But in this case, in this case, it wasn’t because I recognized again that this has nothing to do with me. This is not about me, and I’m not a fool for giving her, and I’m not significant for giving her. And I was not smart for not giving the boy. How I treat beggars is I’m not defining who I am as a person.
[00:29:35] Shouldn’t be the reason why I feel good or bad and how they respond to me. If they’re angry at me, if they remember me or not, if they’re trying to get more or less out of me has also nothing to do with me. All these things are inside of them. What’s inside of me is coming out in the interaction with these, in these extreme situations, since we’re not used to being around beggars and being begged to when it happens.
[00:29:58] If we’re angry, if we are resentful, if we are feeling significant or important, all those things are feelings we had inside of us before these people showed up. All they reveal is our true self. How we truly feel about ourselves in that moment in our lives. And what they do is they bring out these emotions.
[00:30:22] We think these emotions have to do with them, but they’re really just have to do with us. This is something we had carried around unconsciously and that interaction with that beggar opened up our heart for it to come out. It doesn’t matter if it’s anger, rage, empathy, love, foolishness insecurity. If it’s a feeling guilty guilt for the wealth we have for the luck we have for the health, we have, these emotions are part of who we are and where, before we meet these people, these bags are like saints, the chores, how we truly feel and our reactions and not making them feel a certain way, whatever they feel that carried with them before they met us.
[00:31:13] We’re just a, a mirror that lets them see it differently.
[00:31:19] I’m really, truly blessed. It was an interesting experience to have this back to back, to back, to meet the hustling boy and the old pencil man, the grieving grandma and see the different reactions we had as a group to them and their reactions to us. And for me, it was. Eyeopening to see this time around.
[00:31:44] I’m sure. In a few weeks I might be carrying something with me. I was unaware that would come out in an interaction like this, but it was interesting to see how inside of me, I was at a place where it was at peace with myself and a good amount of self love. I had a good amount of peace. I was grounded.
[00:32:05] And so these interactions. I was experiencing very differently than I than I would have months prior or years prior. So I wanted to share these because I felt like every single one of these three beggars leaky, it’s something truly important to teach all of us. And that is it. This is the end of today’s episode.
[00:32:33] Let’s remember, there is no mastery of inner work and that’s why, you know, work never stops.