SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 134: “No Big Deal. 40s Era Stuff”

Dark clouds are hovering outside and the sound of rain is chanting against the roof of my house. And sitting here, mind numb from the Nyquil for the cold and Aleve for the back, it’s impossible for me to not become a touch more self-reflective than my normal left/right brain conflicted state.

And at this instant the right brain is in full charge: a nice place to be after yesterday’s discussion of looking away from stress and towards the silvery horizon of the dream.

As bazaar as it seems, the 365 story has somehow been seamlessly linked thus far. And trust me, other than not missing a day, I’m not trying to force any self-directed continuity.

In last night’s meeting with the young and wise, Meghan, she talked of managing stress, telling us, “’There is nothing to stress or pull your hair out about, and if the worse possible thing happens, it will always get better.  We need to realize that even the small things that stress us are exactly that, ‘small things,’ so why stress.’”

She gave us more: “Take a chance, do it now, and don’t waste time. Realize that molds are meant to be broken, and there are no boundaries other than your own mind. So unless it is a physical wall stopping you, don’t over-think it and just do it.”

I viewed her statements as a charge to dream; approval to look toward the future with open arms and eyes; arms to embrace whatever may come, and eyes to accept the diversity of the world; a charge to get outside of our own minds in optimistically communing with the planet.

Yea… I know… a rose colored perspective, and easy to say when you are in your early twenties or a hopeless dreamer like myself.

“The world has not beaten you down yet,” one may say. Or, maybe others might chime in, “You have to be realistic…” “Life does not work that way…” “If you’re lucky…” etc…etc…etc…

Perhaps they are right; I’m still in the middle of the game. At fifty, I’ve experienced many of the lows and the highs, days of wealth, days of homelessness, death of loved ones and the birth of my daughter. Some were moments of sheer agony and others highs of exquisite happiness, but all just that, days. Days that continue to unravel before my eyes, and days that I have the choice to either embrace with open arms or turn away from by closing my eyes to potential experience.

I told you, the mix of moody, rain day, Nyquil and Aleve is going to my head. Couldn’t help wandering a bit. I’ll slap myself in the face now and step off my philosopher’s perch.

Tell me Richard, “How in the heck does all this tie in to today’s friend, anyway?”

“Let’s see?”

Flash back. The rain has not started yet, no cold medication has been ingested, the back is holding its own and my family and I are walking an outdoor mall enjoying the crisp pre-rain air.

Confession: I’m fifteen pounds up. I’m blaming it on the holidays, but I really think it’s a byproduct of all the snacking I’ve been doing, being desk bound, writing 365.

Readers, FYI… At this moment, to the left of me: Water and un-buttered popcorn. I’m trying to do better. And with tears in my eyes, I’m pledging, “Good-bye candy bar, see you later milkshake and a sad farewell to my burgers.”

I feel healthier for just writing it. We’ll see what happens.

And working to be no hypocrite, my life change begins with a denial of one of my life joys, the frozen yogurt shop.

The challenge is on, the stomach bulge must be destroyed, so when my wife and daughter need their frozen delights, I stand strong, “You go.” I tell them, “I’ll wait here.”

The evil left lobe tempts me as I stand outside a beckoning Menchies Frozen Yogurt. I almost fall to its voice as it whispers, “One small without toppings won’t hurt you!”

Here I am, clenched mind, “No, I won’t do it, yogurt voice, get out of my head,” repeating in my brain, when I sight my snack impulse savior, Doug, sitting at a table in front of the same yogurt joint that is working to kill me. Something tells me he is in the same boat as I, so I approach him with a 365 invite.

Turns out my impression is correct. We laugh as we bond with our equal reasons for not entering the calorie shack and begin talking about the history of 365 and its mission. He is very interested and steps up with enthusiasm.

Now here is where Meghan’s story picks up. Doug’s first words for us: “Take it less seriously; take a moment; less stress… and floss daily.”

I talked earlier of Meghan’s youthful outlook on stress, well it has been grounded today by a man deep into his life and career. But still the message is the same. “What does that illustrate for us?” I won’t answer; I’ll just let it hang for our own reflection.

Doug is a seasoned professional, works in a high-level corporate management position and it’s very random that I meet him this evening.

Hailing from Florida, he is here on a business trip, so in a way we are getting to meet a friend from another state. Very cool!

There is a peace about him. We talk of work and stress. His perspective is well developed, “If things go sideways at work, don’t let it bring your day down,” he counsels us.

Doug talks of what he witnessed at his evening dinner with friends. “We watched a table go off on waiter. Bring it down a notch. Life is too short for anger. Rage it is not worth it.”

We talk of the anecdotes to the insidious persuasions of negativity. Subtle acts like, per Doug’s suggestion, “Open the door for someone, or maybe, let someone else go into traffic. No big deal, 40s era stuff.”

Remember Meghan’s comments on media and society?

Doug’s words: “I’d like to see media less judgmental and a world that is also less judgmental. There is way too much murder, death and judgment in the media. It would be nice to see more positive news and programming that is not focused on conflict, anger and hate, like so many of the reality shows.”

I talked earlier of the links in 365 and of my not seeking after them. Yet I find it uncanny that on two consecutive days I get almost the same answer from two unassociated individuals, both at complete opposite points in their lives.

Like I said, “I did not look for this association… it found me.”

Doug and I conclude our discussion talking of dreams. He shares with me his perspective from the corporate world and I from the world of the self-employed. In the end we agree on a distinguishable point, “The grass is the same green on both sides of the road.”

We all have our own dreams, desires and set of needs. But happiness really starts from within. If we learn to love ourselves, we can love where are, who we are, and what we do in this life. The dream then becomes the reality… and may I propose this, “That the dream is most often a peaceful life perspective… isn’t it?” The rest of it, “It’s all stuff.”

Stuff we have to do, stuff we choose to do, and stuff that is plagued upon us. But in all cases, may we find the dream: Peace of heart, love of self, acceptance of humanity and a fire to do our part to make the earth a better place.

Like Doug instructs, “No big deal. 40s era stuff.”

4 Comments Add yours

  1. RIchard:

    I am enjoying your blog but only found it recently. Can you tell me what 365 is? I get the impression you are committed to writing steady for 365 days? Is that it or is there more? And who is Meghan?

    I started my blog to get me on track with writing more and every day would be good….There is a children’s fantasy novel lurking in the corners of my mind….

    Thanks for sharing your journey….


    1. Hi Wendie,

      Thank you for your comment. You guessed it right 365 is a daily blog, where I photograph and interview a stranger each and every day.

      It has been quite a journey so far, and wonderful to see what we share and what our differences are.

      Per Meghan, she was yesterdays stranger, who I call friends.

      Hope you get your novel cooking.




  2. Richard, another blog I am re posting. It is wonderful and exactly what everyone who has passed the new year need to hear! so in tune with what are entire world is yearning for.


  3. Reblogged this on The Amber Light's Blog and commented:
    I love Richard’s blogs! message that he is being given through his 365 strangers into friends blog is absolutely timely and important. it is so true to see how we feel today. I am so glad that I have found his blogs and am able to share them with you all!
    have a wonderful day! enjoy the best day that you have!


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