Sidewalk Ghosts / Interview 496: “Just Go To The Y.M.C.A.”

We chat generalizations for a while and as we get to know each other a little better the conversation turns to more personal perspectives: family, work, dreams, and most amazingly, of our inner trials of life.

Operation_365_day496I don’t have a photo, even a name to share today. Not even a formal interview can I speak of. But to stay silent would be unfair to the organic outreach the Operation-365 is working to build. That we can get to know each other experience that we dream will grow into a global community of people, doing what they can to better their relationships and communities via the simplest of acts. Namely, opening our mind to see, to hear and to listen to our fellow human.

Through this small gesture great works can be accomplished, and the more who embrace our mission of unity, the farther our actions can reach.

So, why no photo Richard? Basically, I found myself on the receiving end of the Stranger Meeting experience today. I won’t publish his name, nor his photo. Honestly, I did not even take a photo or ask a formal question. But the impact of the meeting is worthy of publishing, so here it is.

Here I sit, 6 hours at the YMCA. Hanging out while my daughter moves from dance class to dance class. I’m not alone. I sit among other family guys. That special group of dudes that some may wish to call “Mr. Moms.” Yep, I look hot, sitting in tee-shirt and baggy shorts, face buried into laptop bliss. Perhaps I could even call myself a kept man. Well, not really, today is just my turn to play gym parent.

Thank for the scene Richard, we feel closer to you now. But as we stare into the sun, working to purge the visual you share, might you elaborate on the laptop bliss you speak of? A public place; your face in computer disconnect? Richard, what kind of example are you setting for us? We, your 365 friends? You tell us of your chin up and eyes open to the world thing, then why are you at a place, surrounded by other parents, your face away from them? The shame of it!

You’re right. I admirably submit to your judgment. But may I call myself as chief counselor in defense of my breach of honoring the 365 call to action.

“How are you getting internet?” he asks as he pulls me away from my research obsession. It takes a second to adjust my focus away from the screen. Further reminding me of a secondary pitfall of loosing myself in the digital jungle, the loss of vision. Optometrist, here I come.

We chat generalizations for a while and as we get to know each other a little better the conversation turns to more personal perspectives: family, work, dreams, and most amazingly, of our inner trials of life.

Now, I’m not advocating any of us to openly reveal our darkest secrets to any passer-by. That would be far too codependent toward the world, or might even place us in harm’s way. But on the other hand, do we go too far to the other side and isolate ourselves from the opportunity of an enlightening moment.

I’ll reveal to you the real reason I’ve chosen to bury myself in looking away from the world today. I’ve had a crappy few days. Don’t really want to talk to people. So I guess I’m licking my wounds in silence. Me. Mr. Optimistic and Outgoing is silenced.

He opens up further in telling me of a deep depression he experienced years ago. “I told my wife I think I’ll be OK,” he reveals. Continuing, “I really love her, she stood by my side and we are doing great now.”

I feel honored that a complete stranger trusts me enough to reveal such a personal experience. I find my new friend balanced and very successful as we compare careers and life, and although we work in very different fields and live by different means, much of what we share connects in a marvelous way. Reminding us that no matter what we see on the outside, regardless of status and situation, we are all doing the best to deal with our own issues and circumstances.

A complete stranger has again touched my heart. He has no idea of who I am as we chat. I am struck to recall the full meaning of Operation-365, of its mission, of its influence to inspire, and even of its ability to heal as it open our minds and hearts toward one another.

I won’t go into the full depths of our conversation, that would take far too many words and be unfair to the privacy on my unnamed new friend. But what is more important than any specific dialogue shared is this: two men talking openly, both uniquely individual with totally different histories, strengths and weaknesses; an evidence to the premise that within each of us, no matter who we are, lies a profound influence on the world around us.

It’s like a ripple effect. For myself, for today, I admit, I am blue, or I was blue. Feeling alone and unheard. Ignoring my own council of getting out of myself to embrace the world as well as its healing power.

So to my new YMCA father friend, I thank you. You have healed me this day and have proven to us all that “the power of one” is truly a remarkable thing.

Talk tomorrow my good friends,


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