Sidewalk Ghosts / Article-365: “Counting Sheep”

I count sheep, fighting an internal dialogue. It’s a recurring theme, that at times, shows itself as a passing loneliness, or appears as an unquenchable hunger. Like unedited strings of sentences and words they burn in my heart. Forcing me to cry to the very heavens above,
pleading, “Why!” Screaming, “How!” Begging, “Enough is enough!”

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For years I’ve been buried in a quest, a mission that has earned me the under eye bags of far too many sleepless nights. Like a mental lightning storms, the thoughts crack with ceaseless frequency as they often hold my eyelids to the ceiling, all with an optimism towards us, the real people living real lives.

53 years of living behind me, 30 years of career under my feet. 20 years providing as husband, son and father have put me at this plateau. Soulful? Perhaps, at times, that’s just the artist in me. Enlightened? I hope so. Fatigued? Sometimes; but, tired I am not.

For months now I’ve been talking of “We.” A point of view that is thrusting me ahead in breaking new ground in all that I have been placed on this planet to do. A perspective that has been brought to me not only by my own life experience, but more impactful, through the 1000s of interactions which Operation-365 has graced me. The highs and lows of it’s financial drain, the compliments and insults directed at me by my fellow-man, the ups and downs of managing a family and career and the valleys and mountains of, well, just being one man with a mission.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever considered finding myself in the shoes I have crafted in doing my part to awaken us as a people. After all, I’m just a photographer—a visual guy; the romantic artist with romantic dreams. But 365 has changed me. Tempered me. Matured me. Yes, the romance is still alive. Larger than life it has opened my heart so wide that turning back to old habits and lifestyle is now impossible.

Many nights I sleep well, knowing just how remarkable, how smart and evolving we are. Rocked to R.E.M. in the knowledge of our ability to contribute the greatest gifts to mankind. But I’m human, and although I talk of my romanticism and optimism, many a night bring me no such peace. I look at the realities, examining and being exposed to the other side of the equation of good. The very fact, that as capable as we are, we are equally able to fall to the depths of destroying ourselves.

I’m saddened and sickened by the wicked acts occurring in the world. Atrocities that are so distant from the views, wants, and ability of our 365 society‑-the 1000s of people who have grasped the vision of what we are trying to accomplish. The strangers who have trusted us to listen to their outlook, and council of the brave ones sounding the call as we scream, “Stop the senseless murders!”

Those who are sacrificing all as their example turns our shoulders away from the lies of abused and misguided religion and politics. The front liners who are giving life and limb in the fight against the gross injustices of genocides, and the humble ones who have the stamina to hold ground against the devaluation of humanity that streams so callously over the viral wavelengths, masking themselves as pranks and humor.

So yes, my burning heartache cries to the very heavens above me today. Pleading, “Why!” Screaming, “How!” Begging, “Enough is enough!”

Even in the sacred halls of our very homes, the sickness travels, unavoidable with every mouse click, readjusted by each track pad move and connected via every social app launch. The sophisticated feeds of incoming links strike our in boxes with increasing tenacity. The social media storm, the targeted invites, all side effects of living in this time of technology. Digital highways where, far too often, the best destinations seem to get overlooked while the ugliest of paths somehow rise to top ranking.

So I stay up. Writing narratives to the invisible people, the quite ones, who we’ve never seen face-to-face; the ones who, although distant from each other, are coming together in the midst of a shared battle. We: The literal majority. We: The engaged ones. We: the you, and the us. We: The silent and the strong.

In my writing I call us an outreach, my new producer friend calls us a movement. Only time will confirm the correctness of either. I introduce all those I interview as strangers… now friends. Only your reactions, feelings and works will prove the truthfulness of the claim. But still, here we are, reading together. Listening to each other as we ponder the reasons behind the actions of one another.

Three years have proven that we are not that different. Three years has demonstrated that we equally cry at loss. Three years has revealed that we unanimously cringe at cruelty, and three years has demonstrated that we rejoice together in feeling loved. So what do we do from here?

Do we tell ourselves, “Prepare for the worse. Secure our possessions, wall away the strangers, it’s us or them.” Do we convince ourselves the world is getting darker and darker by the minute? Do we look past the murders, the genocide, the cruelty? Do we cry out, “Dear God; enough is enough! Please help! Stop the insanity of it all!”

The end of the game is not at our doorstep. No good intent should ever become feared. Nor should we allow the what if’s to overwhelm us, the biases to engulf us and the insecurities control us? We shall roll on. Moving ahead. Not buying into a numbed future.

Like I said, never in my life would I have thought I’d be in this position: Writing. Blogging. Lecturing. Praying and pleading all the way as I dream of a time when our community reaches the tens of thousands. Numbers that have the width to rewire thinking.

So I hunger. I pray. I contemplate. With you, we are in a position to evoke this change. With your individual footprint, with your magnificent insight, with your powerful testimony and life experience, we can find ourselves as an immense catalyst. All engaged in the same mission.

We are we; and we, through our every day interactions, via the results of our actions, and more long-lasting, as a result of our choices, do have the strength to heal millions. One at a time may we go forward in building our community, and if we are meant to become a movement, that indeed would be a beautiful thing!

Talk soon my good friends,

Richard

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