SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 118: A Charge to Optimism

Rejection is key tonight. The man working at 7-Eleven, warm not interested; a local auto repair center… “We’re too fried to speak”; the pizza joint, “Life is good, we need to treat each other well, but I’m out.” It’s just the beginning a deluge of rejections.

The dry cleaner… “Great idea, don’t want to be photographed”; the accountant next door… “I like it. Not me”; The cool girl at the tanning salon… “I’m in,” but when I tell her she will be the front page of my blog for 24 hours, she gets self-conscience and declines.

Off to the supermarket to grab my wife’s medication (bronchitis bites). I ask the pharmacist. You guessed it, “It’s a nice idea, but I’m too busy.”

Rejection is part of 365, I’m good with that, but please, someone help me out here. I’ve got a sick wife to tend to; an all-night 365 outing is just not a select option tonight.

To my left, watching the whole exchange, is a shop customer. I turn to him (I’m sure I look a little exasperated), “Did you hear what we were talking about?…” I share with my unknown friend.

“No, I didn’t catch it.”

“Perhaps you can save me from a long night of insanity?”

My still-unknown friend is all ears as I introduce him to 365, while telling him of the rejections I have thus far had.

Without hesitation, “I’ll do it! Is it OK if I am a Scientologist?”

“Of course,” I tell him, explaining that 365 makes no claim to highlighting any one specific religion, political point of view, race, gender, income bracket or really, any differentiator of humanity.

Simply told, “365 features people for who they are, and that’s it.”

With the history of the night told, I think it’s fair of me to finally let you know the name of my sanity saving friend.

Say “Hello” to Cesar, father of two and a king of positive thinking.

It’s a little awkward being in a supermarket taking photos of Cesar, feels like the eyes are upon us as shoppers pause to take notice of what we are doing. Plus, the security guard at the entrance looked at me with trepidation as I entered the store, and wanting to be assured that we do not become a distraction to the mobs of shoppers, we make our interview short and sweet.

There is a persuasive comfort present in speaking with Cesar, and it leads me to my earlier mentioned perception of his infectiously positive attitude.

Of Mankind, he starts with this, “I want mankind to be totally awesome.”

A rather global statement. “How can that happen?” I challenge.

He clarifies, “It starts with the individual. We can be awesome if we all could find a way to do our part.”

To quote Cesar, “First we have to make ourselves whole, and from there we are able to help others out.”

His concept is of selflessness, not selfishness.

In his words, “I’d like to see honesty in every single person. People who listen to other people who want to be heard in letting them express their feelings without judgment.”

Cesar throws a second global charge, “If we were nice to each other we’d have no crime.”

Sounds overly optimistic, I know, but what is relevant in his charge is what we do with it.

There is great power in one. If we do our best and help others, the probability of those we uplift will become viral. One, becomes two and two becomes four.

Think of all the great examples of one: the compassion of Mother Theresa, the integrity of Abraham Lincoln and the courage Rosa Parks; only a few who through their faith and perseverance did great works. Who is to say that one effort is naught?

Cesar, I applaud your optimism.

His final wish, a father of two, Cesar concludes, “I dream that my kids will grow up in a better world.”

Cesar, I’m with you.

Now back to shopping.