Sidewalk Ghosts / Interview 497: “Just GO”

“When a person says your name and you know that it’s safe when they say it, or when they speak about you. I think that is love. You know that they love you” —Rikki

Operation_365_day497We only worked together for a few short hours. I knew nothing of her until the day we met to do a little photo shoot several weeks back; and as I am reviewing the pictures in choosing the final photos for my “People, Real and Beautiful” campaign, something reaches to me. “Interview her,” the voice says. “She has something important to share and it is your job to let the world know of her wisdom.”

I bargain for a while. The same old argument. “She is not an absolute stranger,” I tell myself. The internal dialogue that has plagued me since the very inception of Operation-365’s stranger connecting outreach and after 3 years you would think I’ve resolved my resistance to any in front of my nose opportunity to share the wisdom of easier found acquaintances. Maybe it is the martyr in me that pushes me to walk endless hours on unknown streets. The months have taught me well. I have learned in the most habitual way to look up—to see and approach those I’d don’t know.

But Rikki has stopped me in my tracks. I cannot look away from my computer monitor today as I finish the photos from our session, and it is far beyond any analysis of facial structure or refinement of color and lighting. It’s so much deeper than that. There is just something about her eyes and her countenance; a glow that, although semi-silent in still photo form, has the ability to radiate knowledge, warmth and humanity. I can’t take my eyes off the screen.

“Call her for an interview and you are a cheat,” I reprimand myself. Fearing that I will lose the spirit of our call to open our eyes to the world around us, and to interview someone you have already met, well, that is plain blasphemy to Operation-365’s integrity. Yet still, Rikki’s photo reaches to me. “I have something to share. Please allow me to.”

I pick up the phone and once again am reminded of the fact that it matters not how we meet each other— or even the depth of our relationships. We all walk with hidden gems of wisdom, and Rikki’s words are needed here for us to be heard this day.

“I would tell the world that the only reason we are here today, in this very moment, is for a purpose,” she begins, and I’m stopped in my tracks. Purpose being at the very core of 365 reasoning: We all have something magnificent to contribute to the world.

“Even though people think it is all up to them to think and find whatever their purpose is, I don’t think that is always the case…” Rikki elaborates, “…your purpose could lie in someone else. It could lie in a cause. It could lie anywhere. It’s not always just right on the surface for you. Sometimes you have to look outside of yourself to find out what your purpose is. But you’re here, and there is a reason why. So just go search.


“I think you can get stuck in one place because you think that is what you are supposed to do. Or, that people tell you that you need to do a certain thing. But you really need to go out and find out whatever that one thing is that you are here to do.”

That one thing? Purpose? Is Rikki talking about our works? Or is she referring to a deeper meaning? A more soulful outlook that transcends the, “this is what I do” stuff. Those calculated dialogues that, although looking good on bio, have temptation to redirect us away from a much grander reason for walking this earth. A challenge for us to look past the external veils that falsify the real who we are, and to redirect our motives toward a more thoughtful exploration of our fellow human and the uniqueness of their talents.

“We should stop being afraid,” Rikki advises. “We should stop putting boundaries and barriers on ourselves, on each other, and we should really let people just be who they are, and accept who they are. I think it is all about expecting things moving forward. It’s not 2010. It’s not 1950. It’s not 1910. It’s 2014. Times are changing. Things are different. People are different and people are more vocal. People just want, more than anything, to be accepted. So, I think moving forward, we just have to remove all of the boundaries, and the blinders, and the barriers off of ourselves and all these things that have been put on us. The generational curse, and just really, really, learn to accept and ultimately love our neighbor. Love our brother. Love our sister.”

But how do we get there?

“The words ring sweet, but it is a pipe dream…” The guarded skeptic might charge, “How can we trust?” The injured might wobble, “Get real, the world is a tough place,” and might minister the controlling. Yet, the answer could be as simple as two letters. One so impactful that through the mind of Rikki are given to us for implementation in our daily living: “GO.”

“Go for it. Go forward. Go to your dreams. Go to you passions. Go to what makes you happy. Go be free. Just GO.”

We’ve often heard similar phrases: “Just do it. Follow your heart. Don’t let anyone else distract you.” From ad campaigns to filled rooms directed by the motivators, the variations of the theme are momentarily invigorating. But, how do we keep the tenacity to keep the flame alive for a lifespan, and how do we avoid getting blindsided by a self-generated pitfall of rigid guidelines?

Goals are good things. Dreams are meant to be followed. Yet, how do we really know if we are heading in the right direction? Rikki and I talk about this for a moment, and as we do, the secret ingredient appears, “LISTEN.”

Per Rikki, “When you go, you are listening to something that invited you, that inner voice that says ‘go.’

“Go is taking a step. It is moving forward. Definitely. It is all connected, and you have to hear the direction.”

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