Sidewalk Ghosts / The Gangsta?

“We Need To Help Our Kids”

 

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Heading into the third week of interviewing strangers, and the impact the project was having on my family was becoming overwhelmingly apparent—taking the majority of my time during a time when our financial situation was less than solvent. A coin collecting time when recovering from a debilitating recession had left my family looking over the edge of loosing all that we had worked hard for. All security evaporated by a barrage of bill collectors, and my time obsessed with a project that was beginning to take the major part of my life. To undertake a project the scope of 365 was a most insane commitment. But I could not turn away from it, and with abandonement to logic I pushed forward. Even to the point of halting all marketing of my struggling business.

My wife and I have been debating on the relevance of republishing the first year of this project. Debating if it is of any worth to showcase stories all ready posted, but the last few days has brought to me a powerful revelation of their merit. You see, I now realize that the first time I published my stories were a little guarded. But now, as I review them a second time, and remembering every detail of every day of the journey, I must expose that I had to keep a touch of promotional subtext within each article. My financial situation and self-esteem were every so precarious at the time. A condition that forced me to be careful not to write too heavily about the feeling of low self-worth and my financial situation. A risk that, at the time, might had adversely affected my pursuit of employment or undermined my efforts in securing assignments.

But now, years later, with the wisdom gained from the experience, and all that has followed, I am looking back on each day; seeing deeper lessons as I fill in the blanks.

In the last few posts I’ve talked about working on a project or two, and in those experiences the situations are accurate. Hidden from you was the angst that was in my life in trying to support my family, and the full scale the impact 365 was taking on my life. A conflict of waking up every day knowing that I was involved in a work of relevance and the marketing of a business that was struggling in the worst way. A decision made to not publish the depth of that chapter in my life in fear that it would alienate me in my professional life. Yet, as held true to course in prioritizing 365, literally giving less and less time to the maintenance of my business, the phone began to ring. Work began to come in. It was enough to sustain my family, and figuring it a blessing from heaven, I was compelled to give my whole to the continuation of 365.

It had been two years of penny pinching, tears and prayers, and with an advance check clearing the bank, for the first time in way too long, I was looking at the opportunity to actually take my wife on a date night. It had been a month since we’d even had any “us time,” the stress of it all affecting our communication and relationship.

We decide to hit one of our favorite haunts, King’s Fish House. Hungry for rest, we arrived with an hour and a half to spare, looking forward to a little stroll to appreciate each other and to decompress. Plus, the timing was perfect, right before the dinner rush. Without a line, we easily slipped in and were seated in a cool little two top, perfect for the three of us.

“Three? You said, ‘You and your wife?’ How do you get three?” Well, it was my wife, Terri, myself, and my camera bag. Terri sat across from me on my side of the table, as I instinctually put my arm around lady camera. It had become a fixed partner in every aspect of my life, and even though we were on “us” time, 365 was still with us. Guess I am lucky that my wife is not the jealous kind. Yet even with this, it was still so early into the project that I had no idea how heavy a load, and life altering experience, the project would ultimately become.

It was only 16 days in. Out with my beloved on a first date in way too long. Yet, as we dined, I noticed a different rapport emerging between us. I was becoming a world scanner, doing funny thing like glancing over Terri’s shoulder in quest for a 365 acquaintance, or spending a little more effort in befriending the food server and restaurant staff.

Our life habits were changing. Little adjustments like walking with chins up as we looked into the faces of people we passed by. Paying a little more attention as we listened to happenings around us. Life was slowly becoming an experiment in voyeurism in a most respectful and subtle way. We were not those people who strangely peaked their eyes in uncomfortable stares, rather, we were beginning to simply acknowledge our fellow man’s existence. A subtle nod here, a relaxed, “Hello,” there—and when inspired, an invitation to be interviewed for 365.

We enjoyed our meal. I grabbed my bag and Terri’s hand and we left King’s. As we exited I noticed a little cellular accessory kiosk just outside the restaurant. Operating it was our newest acquaintance to be: The passionate Peruvian businessman and father, Nelson.

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Not only did Nelson have Hollywood leading man looks, he was much the gentleman. We chatted of family, business, and heritage. I asked him to explain his culture. “In Peru,”he told me, “we are passionate. We love to love, eat, dance and enjoy life.” Qualities that radiated from him as he talked of his father’s example as a businessman and how it had influenced all of his own decisions. Nelson was truly a smart guy. He had several kiosks and a jewelry store (smartly placed adjacent to Victoria’s Secret). They say location is everything and Nelson was taking full advantage of the principle.

Our time was rushed, having to pick-up our daughter from an evening outing with friends. We quickly discussed a few more questions and toward the end of our conversation we stumbled upon Nelson’s dream.

He wanted to be in a gangsta movie. Not a street gang character, but one like Tony Montana from Scarface. We role played for a moment. He had a look. So in respect to his acting fantasy, I could not resist shooting an edgy photo for him. His alter ego: Nelson the Gansta.

_L2R1376vvBut foremost as I got to know Nelson, and looking past his business acumen and gansta dreams, I saw the real man as we shared photos of our daughters. It only took a second to switch off the gears of everything else we were talking about. Shifting to a conversation about the importance of children being protected, educated and raised in a safe environment. Adding to that he suggested the importance of community supporting less privileged children—topics that highlighted the character and heart’s intent of Nelson, and a lesson in knowing that beneath every façade of what we see on the outside, might be a slightly fuller picture.

Yes, Nelson, was a handsome, edgy looking businessman, and a dreaming actor, but what he deemed as his higher purpose was of greater nobility. Simply, we was a dad working to support his family, just like me.

Nelson, hope to see you on the big screen!

Talk tomorrow my good friends,

Richard

Readers, if you are returning, so nice to be with you again. If you are new, looking forward to getting to know you.

To all: please comment, like, and forward. Every engagement goes a long way toward connecting us; as together, we grow a movement that betters the way we view and treat one another.

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