Sidewalk Ghosts / Doug — “No Big Deal. 40s Era Stuff”

Dark clouds were hovering outside and the sound of rain was chanting against the roof of my house, and sitting there,  my mind was numb from Nyquil and Aleve in relieving the cold I was fighting. Slightly and legally buzzed, it was impossible for me to not become a touch more self-reflective than my normal left/right brain conflicted state. It was at that instant the right brain is in full charge: I found myself in a nice place to be after yesterday’s discussion with Meghan about looking away from stress and toward the dream.

Meghan talked of managing stress, telling us, “’There is nothing to stress or pull your hair out about, and if the worse possible thing happens, it will always get better. We need to realize that even the small things that stress us are exactly that, ‘small things,’ so why stress.’”

She challenged us: “Take a chance, do it now, and don’t waste time. Realize that molds are meant to be broken, and there are no boundaries other than your own mind. So unless it is a physical wall stopping you, don’t over-think it and just do it.”

I viewed her statements as a charge to dream; approval to look toward the future with open arms and eyes. Arms to embrace whatever may come and eyes to accept the diversity of the world.

Yeh, I know, a rose colored perspective and easy to say when you are in your early twenties or a hopeless dreamer like myself.

Many may say, “the world has not beaten you down yet.” Or, maybe others might chime in, “You have to be realistic. Life does not work that way. If you’re lucky, etc, etc,etc.”

Perhaps they are right; I’m still in the middle of the game. At mid fifties, I’ve experienced many of the lows and the highs— days of wealth, days of homelessness, death of loved ones and blessings like the birth of my daughter. Some were moments of sheer agony and others highs of exquisite happiness, but all just that: days. Days that continue to unravel before my eyes, and days that I have the choice to either embrace with open arms or turn away from by closing my eyes to potential experience.

So tell me Richard, How in the heck does all this tie in to introducing today’s friend?

Flash back. The rain had not started yet, no cold medication had been ingested, the back and my family and I were walking an outdoor mall enjoying the crisp pre-rain air.

Confession: at the time a was fifteen pounds up and blaming it on the holidays, but it really was the byproduct of all the snacking I’d been doing, being desk bound in all the writing for 365

The challenge was on, my stomach bulge had to be destroyed, so when my wife and daughter needed their frozen delights, I stood strong, You go. I told them, I’ll wait here.

Although the temptation was overwhelming, I stayed outside a beckoning Menchies Frozen Yogurt while my family went in for their treat

There I was, clenched mind, No, I won’t do it, yogurt voice, get out of my head, repeating in my brain, when I saw my snack impulse savior, Doug, sitting at a table in front of the same yogurt joint that was pulling to kill me. Something told me he was in the same boat as I, so I approached him with a 365 invite.

Turned out my impression was correct. We laughed as we bonded in our equal reasons for sitting outside, and began talking about the history of 365 and our mission.

Now here is where Meghan’s story picks up. Doug’s first words for us: “Take it less seriously; take a moment; less stress, and floss daily.”

Meghan’s youthful outlook on stress had grounded the words of Doug, a man deep into his life and career. Yet still, the message was quite similar. What does that illustrate for us I won’t answer; I’ll just let it hang for our own reflection.

Doug was a seasoned professional working in a high-level corporate management position and it was very random that I meet him that evening. Was there a higher power connecting the dots. I have no idea. All I knew is that I was there, sitting with a stranger who was becoming a friend for a moment.

There was a peace about Doug. We talked of work and stress. His perspective were well developed, “If things go sideways at work, don’t let it bring your day down,” he counseled.

He talked of what he witnessed at his evening dinner with friends. “We watched a table go off on waiter. Bring it down a notch. Life is too short for anger. Rage it is not worth it.”

We discussed antidotes to the insidious persuasions of negativity. Subtle acts like, per Doug’s suggestion, “Open the door for someone, or maybe, let someone else go into traffic. No big deal, 40s era stuff.”

Remember Meghan’s comments on media and society?

Doug’s words: “I’d like to see media less judgmental and a world that is also less judgmental. There is way too much murder, death and judgment in the media. It would be nice to see more positive news and programming that is not focused on conflict, anger and hate, like so many of the reality shows.”

We talk often of the links in 365 and of my not seeking after them. Yet I find it uncanny that on two consecutive days I got almost the same answer from two individuals who knew nothing of each other, both at complete opposite points in their lives.

Unsolicited, Doug and I also talked of dreams. He shared with me his perspective from the corporate world and I from the world of the self-employed. In the end, we agreed on a distinguishable point, The grass is the same green on both sides of the road.

The take away— We all have our own dreams, desires and set of needs. But happiness really starts from within. If we learn to love ourselves, we can love where are, who we are, and what we do in this life. With that, may I propose this: Could it be that the key to the dream might just be a peaceful life perspective? The rest of it is, as Doug hints, All stuff.

Stuff we have to do, stuff we choose to do, stuff we love to do and stuff that is plagued upon us. But in all cases, may we dig to see the dream: Peace of heart, love of self, acceptance of humanity and a fire to do our part to make the earth a better place.

Like Doug instructed, “No big deal. 40s era stuff.”

4 Comments Add yours

  1. RIchard:

    I am enjoying your blog but only found it recently. Can you tell me what 365 is? I get the impression you are committed to writing steady for 365 days? Is that it or is there more? And who is Meghan?

    I started my blog to get me on track with writing more and every day would be good….There is a children’s fantasy novel lurking in the corners of my mind….

    Thanks for sharing your journey….


    1. Hi Wendie,

      Thank you for your comment. You guessed it right 365 is a daily blog, where I photograph and interview a stranger each and every day.

      It has been quite a journey so far, and wonderful to see what we share and what our differences are.

      Per Meghan, she was yesterdays stranger, who I call friends.

      Hope you get your novel cooking.




  2. Richard, another blog I am re posting. It is wonderful and exactly what everyone who has passed the new year need to hear! so in tune with what are entire world is yearning for.


  3. Reblogged this on The Amber Light's Blog and commented:
    I love Richard’s blogs! message that he is being given through his 365 strangers into friends blog is absolutely timely and important. it is so true to see how we feel today. I am so glad that I have found his blogs and am able to share them with you all!
    have a wonderful day! enjoy the best day that you have!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s