Sidewalk Ghosts / “Just Wish I Could Make Out The Hashtag”

May Day! May Day! My good intents are going down in flames!

IMG_21556am, the day ahead is looking slammed and the thought a long day of travel to interview a stranger is not looking all that attractive. So off to the park around the corner–Warner Park, Topanga and Califa, a location that I’ve often frequented to meet strangers; thinking, I’m heading for a win/win, morning stroll, interview a stranger. An easy 1, 2, 3 combo to get the day started. So I thought.

I loop the park, a few conversations, the typical hellos and the expected quota of, “if you even look at me buddy, I’ll punch you in the spleen” stare offs.

The clock is ticking and I’m starting to hyperventilate as the list of day’s bullet points begins to fog my intuition and joy for the moment. May Day! May Day! My good intents are going down in flames!

No help in sight, I muscle my chin up and reset my vigilance in resuming my 7th lap around the park, continuing my hellos, non-flinching in healing from the isolated brush offs, and perked up by the occasional chat with a stranger here and there. But still, no interview takers and I need to be at home office ASAP. The day is at hand.

8am hits. 2 hours of schlepping 45 pounds of camera backpack, and I’m still nowhere in finding a story for today. Plus the morning beauty light is turning sour as the heat of California inland is rising to its expected 3 digits.

“It is what it is,” I tell myself as I raise my face to the sky in asking for a sign. Anything! Please! But can you make it snappy, I have a story to write and no one is stepping up to tell me their story. “Please put someone in my path that is ready to share.”

8:15am, two more laps down and the iPod protected faces are all looking the same as they look at me with that special, your still here smile.

IMG_2146I give up. Stopping dead in my tracks, without a clue as to where to go now. Fatigued I drop my chin. A gesture that is so contrary to the call Operation-365 has challenged me to follow.

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” Written on the very sidewalk beneath my feet. A credit line reads Thích Nhất Hạnh. Under it a washed our hashtag.

Could it be this is the message for today? Is it plausible that the answer to today’s quest has been right under my chin (excuse the pun) for the last several hours? Are there forces in the universe that govern the reasoning behind every human interaction? I have no clue. All I know is that the second I read the words, my mind is cleared and a stranger I have met. However vicarious the introduction is, I have come face to face with a great and noble peacemaker: Thích Nhất Hạnh himself.

His life is dedicated to the betterment of man and society. Not by any means of privilege or duty, but rather via a long-suffering of humility, mindfulness and spirituality; a man, who in 1967 was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize itself, has touched the hearts and lives of hundreds of thousand’s of people; an example to us all the wonderment of positive perspective.

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” The teacher has spoken. May we learn from his insights.

The clock has stood still as I reflect on the sidewalk words. Yet I have only one regret for my time invested this morning, just wish I could make out the hashtag.

Talk tomorrow my good friends,

Richard

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