Sidewalk Ghosts / All I can say is “Thanks”

“Daddy, I’m not feeling that we should shoot the soccer players, how about trying to meet the people in the office?”

The evening was dedicated to spending time with my daughter, and seeing that our family life had become synonymous with interviewing a stranger each day, we both knew we would be extending ourselves that night. So with no agenda in mind we simply decided to take a drive, not thinking of any route, just seeing who we would run into. Plus, that gave us some personal daddy-daughter time as we Sunday drove in the car. At only thirty-four days into the project I was starting to get really creative in ways to find alone time with my wife and daughter.

We drove aimlessly. Every once and a while stopping here and there to chat with a few people. Had a few engaging conversations regarding community and purpose, but none were willing to step in front of the camera. Still, they expressed interest in the project and gave me the high-five to keep going. Encouragement was always welcomed, so as that relates to now, readers your input fires me up to keep going, I’d love to hear your comments.

I had over a month of behind me at that point, met some very intriguing people. Yet, with eleven months to go in my original challenge, I was not even close to completion, and as I am now experiencing again, was starting to feel the fatigue of creating daily content, let alone finding a stranger to interview. So you need to know just how much your feedback and referrals not only support the mission we are on, but literally build up my moral to keep going. Please don’t be shy, subscribe and give feedback.

We had been driving endlessly, looping through the Valley and feeling a little road weary, we finally settled to rest at Woodland Hills Park.

The sun had set, and under the illumination of mercury vapor lamps, we strolled through the park. I was a good night, and still early in the project, way before hundreds of days had passed, I noticed how my daughter was starting to buy into the spirit of what we were doing. It’s remarkable how our kids pick up on our attitudes toward the world and others, and as tired as I was becoming I was so very grateful to have her by my side. For that evening it was her influence that guided me.

Her comments were heartwarming, “Daddy, I’m not feeling that we should shoot the soccer players, how about trying to meet the people in the office?” Very in-tune and observant ideas for an eight-year old, I really love my kid. She is my hero.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. Even with the passion I have for Sidewalk Ghosts, at times I do get stressed with it, and that night I was feeling it to a very high level. We’d been roaming for hours, searching to meet strangers on a night where many were relaxing with family and friends. I couldn’t help but to questionwhat damage I was putting on my family, spending so much of our personal time with this project? Luckily, I had their blessing. Plus, I have to say the project truly did mature my family.

So there I was, daughter in hand, wandering through Woodland Hills Park. Sleepy and getting blurry eyed, when shadowed under lights blocked by surrounding trees, she sighted a family as they sat at a barely lit table.

Remember, her first words that evening as we entered the park were primarily a do not list. So when she turned to me and said, “I’ve got a good feeling, how about taking pictures of them?” I had to listen.

I confess; my first instinct was to not bother them. Something stalker about walking up out of the darkness of the trees, asking, can I take your photo? But there was no way I was going to burst my daughters bubble. She really wanted to contribute, and I was all in to support her.

Respectfully, I approached them, daughter by my side, hoping my first impression would be appreciated as the non-confrontational family man that I am. We began a light conversation, and it was then that I discovered just how stressed I was from the previous thirty-three days of pressure; and also, just how in-tune my lovely daughter was. For the second I extended the invite to our new friends; Hope, June and their four children, all eyes lit up with enthusiasm mixed with a touch of embarrassment.

I assured them of my intent, gave them an iPad tour of past blog entries and we were quickly on the same page.

What we encountered was a most pleasant neighborly visit with two extremely down to earth people. It was like spending family time at a park with well-known friends. My daughter was happily playing with their four children: Hope’s daughter (age seven) and son (age nine) and June’s daughter (age seven) and son (age nine). My kid fit right in at age eight.

I was overwhelmed by their grace and hospitality, even to the point of June buying me a bottle of vending machine water. Not something many of would consider doing for an absolute stranger. It was at that moment I realized the reason I was supposed to be there. I needed to give myself permission to back off a touch, to release my fast paced trek to write stories, and to allow myself moments to smell the roses. Not only relaxing my intensity to move the project, but in how I was pacing my overall life. A much needed reminder as I re-author this account. For even republishing this journey, and getting ready to begin new interviews is pushing me way off center. We’ll see how well I can get back to balance. But it is a sacrifice that I know from past experience, is one that I hope will yield results far beyond my own needs. So one more shameless plug, I really could use all the help with shares, likes and comments.

There we were, sitting and smiling as we discussed perspectives of how to appreciate the simple things of life. Conversation that further prompted me to consider my attitude in all that I was doing, and am doing.

It’s amazing how easily we can get so caught up in our successes, and even our failures, that we stop considering the most basic priorities. June and Hope radiated a quality of peaceful optimism, and in a simple gesture of them offering cold water to my daughter I became solidified in my respect for their example.

We talked of work histories, stresses to successes, concluding that the glass is always at least half full. Looking at the smiles on their faces as we talked, I was sure both of them held that point close to their hearts.

Family first and friendship was the undertone I picked up as Hope told me of her family dreams and support of June’s talents.

June was a high honors college graduate with incredible artistic talent. Humble and kind she blushed as we talked about her specialty, ceramics. I extended the offer to publish her artwork, but with an intoxicatingly embarrassed giggle, she passed on the invite.

The advice they left us, as appropriate to the energy they emitted. “Don’t stress on wanting too much. Life is not about accumulating material possessions. It’s more about being grateful for what you have.”

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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