SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 201: It’s “A Feeling” and “A Knowing”

The magazine stand guy, not wanting anything to do with me, painfully dismisses me; the man at the dry cleaners, although very friendly and wanting me to give him my hat, converses with me, yet in the end escapes meeting us with an, “I’m too shy”

No problem, and by rough counts, I’m fairly sure that since the beginning of 365, way back in September, I have approached over 900 people. Crazy how time flies, and all of the stories, even the rejections, have been part of the great adventure.

In that, I was asked today at a photo-shoot, “What is the most common answer, or response, you get?”

A very difficult question indeed, and to summarize the reactions of hundreds of people I have approached, photographed and interviewed is quite a daunting task. But I think about it, and the first thing that comes to mind is The Golden Rule – “Treat others as you yourself would want to be treated,” and “How are you going to make money off this?”

Both are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, but in contrasting these two commonalities, my intent is to suggest a diverse range of responses. Many have embraced our reach-out, while others have looked upon it with skeptical eyes.

The point being, and in typical Richard style, to pose a question for reflection, and after last nights interview of Jacklyn and Quinton (Relax, It’s Gonna Work Out), reflection is in the air.

That reflection, “Do we reach out with open arms, or do we close ourselves off the possible uniting experiences.”

Trust me, I’m not encouraging us to approach every stranger we see, or to ignore our common sense or intuition, I am merely asking us to consider the possibility of a united outlook in how we receive one another. That’s all.

Two rejections thus far, no big deal, one harsh and distant, the other fun and bonding, but in both I have experience an emotion with a neighbor in life. And in each I can lay my head down this evening, knowing that I at least tried to understand each situation.

Two distinctly different, “See ya later Richard!” brush offs, and who knows how many more to come. And putting my feelings to the side, my hope is that through sharing them that I can sprout a seed in all of us to look beyond our own comfort zones in projecting any positive energy we can towards our fellow humans.

Two definite good byes, and sobered by the suns dropping, plus a huge desire to recline my studio floor weary feet, I notice that to left of me, exiting work appears a smiling face, backed by a busy 7-eleven parking lot. I approach my prospected smile, very uncertain of what is in store.

I muster a simple, “Hello!” and do all that I can to remain smiling and open in silencing my mind in accepting whatever reply is to come. This is another courage building situation, one that has me preparing for rejection number three as I welcome the approaching sunset (after all, we’re standing in a strip mall parking lot and the sky is growing dark).

Nonetheless with the 365 fire burning in my heart, I politely go on to part two of my introduction.

“I’m a photographer working on a blog project, I started it 200 days ago in committing to approach strangers every day and asking them two questions… The questions are…” I begin a brief explanation.

Summary delivered I step in my strangers shoes to visualize myself… “Creepy captain outreach, what’s with the cheeks puffed, and wipe off that rosy outlook? Go elsewhere to blow your 365 sails… Yo-ho commander… Buzz off and away dude or I just might slap you…!”

Wait…! Richard, you keep telling us you are a hopeless optimist, why the negative self perception?”

My wife and I have a satirical expression, “If it is not broken, it is not the Radstone’s.”

AC blows up in winter, back porch light switch turns on lamp in front of house, new shower head upstairs, floods downstairs hallway (I still can’t figure that one out)… You know… normal everyday stuff.

And with tonight being the first evening in I don’t know how long that the prospect of an hour of alone time with my wife (love my daughter to tears, but she is at an activity), on the horizon, I guess I am being a self humorist in preparing for a broken agenda through not finding a friend in a timely manner.

Well, I’m wrong and am educated with another lesson in faith towards humanity. The smile that first caught my attention has not faded, seems it has dodged the veal of skepticism, and behold the sky’s of fellowship have opened up as once stranger, Brittanies, accepts the call to become our friend of day 201.

“Keep a smile on your face every day and smile at everybody you meet” Brittanies emphasizes.

For half of a year, I’ve been smiling at the world, and to be quite honest, at times it does become a little exhausting. Yet one thing is undeniable, every time I do, something comes back to me. Brittanies sums it up nicely. “At the end of the day we need to pass it on, and if we do they will pass it on.”

What…? Is Brittanies a mind reader and has she probed into my evening of mentally subdued optimism?

I don’t know… But let me propose a more realistic thought.

Maybe she is a 365 catalyst, and tonight, I am meant to be her student. And, if this is cause for discussion, I am now on the receiving end of what I have been preaching, and evidence to the empowerment of the smile.

A smile that has led us to a stable set of wisdoms to consider in preparing for our progression in life.

“Be conservative because you never know how far you have to stretch yourself, your mind and your body.” Brittanies advises.

“You don’t want to give away too much because you don’t know what you need in the future.”

Clues me to a follow-up question, “How do we know when it is the right time to give?”

Brittanies leans towards the spiritual, “You’ll have a feeling and a knowing that today is the day. And if you have that feeling and you go with it… Only good can happen because you believed it was time.”

Brittanies talks of passing on a smile, something that we probably all appreciate.

I’ll not dispute that a smile is a powerful unifier, yet in a way Brittanies has given us a deeper reason to glow at our neighbors. She calls it a feeling and a knowing.

I view it as a listening and a permission to trust… Or in Brittanies words, “Only good can happen because you believed it was time.”

In a way, Brittanies has stood upon a pulpit in looking past herself in projecting her smile to us.

“And at the end of the day they will pass it on,” she declares.

And I counter… Brittanies, keep smiling my new friend, you have uplifted us all.

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