I was growing to love my Sunday neighborhood strolls. I had lived in my house for 9 years, thought I knew the area, and after only two weeks of meeting strangers I was realizing I knew nothing about the people who live so near to me. They were, and are, amazing. A story within everyone; each personal and unique as they shared in the 365 journey. Testament to culture and diversity. Not hyped culture, but the kind with roots: individuals, families, and diverse origins. I found the streets around me a real melting pot of humanity, and it was the coolest thing.
It’s a funny thing how easy it is to get caught in the comfort of our own personal islands. Home is our sanctuary, but in meeting strangers who lived within blocks of my home, I was starting to accept the fact that our own residence could be isolation as well. I was only 17 days into 365 and I was blown away at what I was learning. That in my statement of keeping my chin up and eyes open, I was being shown that the world really is a small place.
So with this, I challenge you to join me in better knowing your neighbors. Not just the ones to the left and right of you. Dig a little deeper, walk a longer stride in saying, “Hello,” to faces you’ve never seen. I promise we’ll all be better for doing so.
A philosophical soapbox statement: “Water seeks its own level.” A premise that, over the almost eight years of this experience which we now call Sidewalk Ghosts, has been proven time and time again—and on September 26, 2011, it flew with flying colors.
I was out for only a few minutes, literally a two-minute walk from my front door, when I came across artist, Janet, and her co-blogging daughter, Marie. It was Marie’s birthday. She, her Mother, and baby Bichon Frise, were on a neighborly walk when I first noticed them about 100 yards in front of me. They were strolling on the same sidewalk, walking at the same pace, and in the same direction as I. The little voice in my heart kicked in, telling me I needed to introduce myself. But with the distance, I felt it would be a little creepy to speed my pace to catch up with them. I told myself, If it is meant to be it will be,as I diverted my focus to enjoying the light passing through the trees. Not noticing that just ahead Marie, Janet, and Bichon baby had stopped to chat with a neighbor who was busily watering her lawn. I grew closer, and feeling a bit like an intruder, I reached out with a neighborly introduction, sharing where I lived, my intent, and an invitation to be part of 365…now Sidewalk Ghosts.
Back to “water seeks its own level.” I found out that Marie was a very established stylist and fashion consultant who, prior to working on her own, was with Barneys New York—quite an accomplishment for a woman in her early twenties. It’s always great to meet people in supporting fields.
However, credit where credit is due. Marie came from a line of artists. Here mother Janet was an accomplished pastel artist. We talked about art for a minute and then they invited me into their home to see some of her drawings. We even figured out an on-the-fly way to photograph one of them. I would be remise if I did not show you her artwork. It went further though—Janet also has a son following in her artistic footsteps, a very successfully working celebrity photographer. Both she and Marie told me about him with great pride. I always love it when I hear of other people staying alive as photographers and artists. I was thankful for their affirmation.
The greatest thing about the experience was being invited into their home. Feeling part of the family as I was warmly greeted into a living room full of the kindest people. The home was busy with activity; family members watching TV, playing with children, and simply relaxing together on a Sunday afternoon. Even though it was their personal family time, I realized a mirror was turned. For as I quested to meet strangers in making new friends, the same was true as a most openhearted family thoroughly welcomed me into their lives. Humbled, a profound revelation came to my mind: I was not alone in my quest to better know my co-human.That day I witnessed a change of perspective I never thought of before that day. That day I realized a full circle notion…they were meeting a stranger, too.
Talk tomorrow my good friends,
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.