SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 169: “Pay It Forward”

Pet lovers of the world unite in saying hello to Captain Morgan, the leader of today’s 365 brigade.

My daughter and I come across he and his human life guides, Diane and John, as we are enjoying an afternoon bike ride. I know, another tribute to the weather of California, February and it feels like spring. Well, you probably don’t have to worry about earthquakes or strange politics. So we all have our pros and cons in where we live, I guess.

My daughter is cute and one of the biggest 365 fans. And with that, I must accept her suggestions when it comes to meeting friends. Here we are, whipping around the neighborhood in two-wheeled bliss, when upon the audible call of the infamous Captain Morgan, my daughter say, “Dad! We have to talk to them.”

I oblige. “Hello, please forgive me if I am interrupting your walk, but my daughter told me I need to talk to you,” I say as I introduce ourselves in explaining 365.

Sort of feels like a vintage moment, a flashback to eras past. Times where neighbors rallied together on a daily basis, socializing on the street or yard side in bonding to happily know the people in the house next door.

Shamefully I have to admit, ten years in my home and I am only just now beginning to meet the people living in my neighborhood. Another partial motivator to our daily bike rides. Both my kid and I have learned to give our greeting to all that we pass, and it’s been incredible getting to know those I live close to on a new level.

I’m blown away at how much diversity there can be in the smallest of areas, and through getting to know my neighbors, I encourage you to do the same. I promise you will not regret the effort.

And as it turns out, my daughter is very inspired in asking me to approach, Diana, John and, of course, Captain Morgan.

We let Mr. Morgan go first in relieving himself of his barking, after all, he is the Captain, and upon his approving sniff, are granted audience with his entourage, the smiling and wonderfully warm-hearted Diane and John.

They speak as one, another sign of the warmth of their character and love for one another. Neither step on the others words and with charm, and well-synched responses, they listen and support each other with the greatest of peace. And in the fast paced culture of today, it is encouraging to be sharing time with a couple that is definitely on the same page in enjoying simple time together.

Diane urges us to smile for no reason. “Pay it forward,” she instructs, and looking at John she becomes a spokesperson, “We’d like to a world and a future where people are more community oriented instead of so individualistic.”

The Captain obviously agrees as he cheers out to a passing cat.

I find out that Diane and John share a common vocation; both are schoolteachers. And through this, it becomes apparent they are putting their priorities into action.

In expressing their wishes for us, “Give kids lot of hugs and enjoy them as kids… And always… family is first,” Diane say, accompanied again by John’s engaged expression of agreement.

John takes his turn, “I’d like to see a day when more people are being honest. So many people hide things. If we would learn to listen to each other, and have a sense of humor about life, not taking things too seriously, we would probably look at each other in a different way. And hopefully learn to trust, but we need to a least be able to laugh.”

“It would also be great to see a throwback in time, with less technology in our daily lives,” John states in advancing his outlook on the future.

Now I’ve lost count, how many times have we heard this?

Don’t take he or I wrong. We both agree that there is a place, and time, for the greatness of the technology we have. The point is, as we have heard in the ongoing caution we keep hearing from many of our 365 friends: We need to focus on creating a balanced life.

And how do we achieve this balance. That’s a personal question for us all to reflect upon. But to reinforce this reflection, Diane reveals a few pointers through her outlook towards the children of this new tech absorbed generation. “We need to spend more time playing outside, getting active, using our hands and creativity. You know, picking up a stick or a rock, and just going to town.”

I’m sure this idea hits us all at a deep down core level. I’m 50 and am again embracing my childhood self. And you know what? Life is somehow lightening up; while at the same time my adult self in growing in focus and purpose.

Work is still moving forward, family fun and issues are still occurring, and my aches are still here. But who cares, I’m breathing, growing and cohabitating in this planet the best I can.

Some days I am successful and on others I fail miserably. A fact of life we are all subject to, and a fact that if viewed with the correct glasses, is actually the fruit of life.

Pick up a stick or a rock, and just go to town,” Diane instructs.

“It would also be great to see a throwback in time, with less technology in our daily lives,” John dreams.

Each reasons for consideration in aiding us to open our eyes in deciding how we will address each day of our temporal existence.

May we consider the eyes of the child, looking upon one another with accepting eyes and trusting hearts. Or at least instill these virtues, with a dose of discernment, to the emerging generation of our future leaders.

Diane, talks of hugs… and enjoying kids as kid… and always… family is first,”

In her words I see an outline of actions. First, teach our children, and ourselves, compassion, honesty and an educated outlook towards both the good and bad of the world (the key to discernment); and secondly, to drop guile, judgments and prejudices in reaching out.

Diane prompts us, “A world where people are helping each other, like cleaning a yard, going out and doing some type of random act of kindness. It would be great if that became the norm.”

With a smile, Diane shares a joke, but there is relevance in her humor. “Use your turn signals,” she laughs.

It’s funny how many of our 365 friends have cited avoiding road rage as an example of compassion toward mankind. Helps us to ask this question, “What other small acts can we do each day?”

Diane, John and Captain Morgan, a pleasure spending sidewalk time together. And leaning on Diane’s opening council, may we all, “Pay It Forward!”