SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 190: “All It Takes Is One Apology”

I promised myself that today I’d interview the first person who verbally responds to me. I’ll call it the reverse magnet theory.

Off to find myself a busy corridor I go, once again the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, where I put on my smile face and hit the trails.

Chin up and eyes open to the people I walk and it’s a completely different experience than that of the past 365 outings, where I opened my words as well as my eyesight.

The promenade is busy with activity, and it’s quite interesting to take note of the body language responses I receive from a simple smile and head nod.

It is quite remarkable what you can read in the eyes of a person, and for those who engage with me, the range of reactions is full. “Good to know you,” one person nods; “I’m in a hurry… can’t stop to chat,” another shrugs with a grin; “Pervert… go away,” a mother grimaces off as she check her child.

In a way… I am remorsefully surprised that most people do not reach back verbally. Makes me question when we lost our faith in the world around us. It’s not as if I have cornered someone in an alley… or threatened them… or have an apparent objective (i.e., the guy holding the sign that reads, “Jokes $1.00”).

There are countless people as well as police presence all around and I am doing all that I can to keep my posture non-threatening and receptive. Who know maybe I look pathetically out-of-place or like a stalker, but in clean jeans, and a conservative shirt, I think I blend in pretty well.

I’m not trying to make any grand point of discussion with the above observation, just a feeling in my gut has asked me to write of this finding for whatever it will become.

Really I’m quite blown away, forty-five minutes and no hello’s, how are you’s or good day’s at all. When as I ready to begin to speak, “Hello, how are you!” comes at me from the right.

Laughing, I reply, “I’m tired.”

I never say why I’m tired, that being of the energy expense of receiving now countless non-verbal rejections. I’m just happy to finally be engaging with another human, even though I know she is just doing her job of bringing attention to the café that has hired her to draw customers in.

As we talk two young ladies settle on the street side menu next to us. My still stranger engages with them. “Where are you from?” she asks. There is an honesty to this girl and I am wondering what gives her this special radiance.

“I’m from Boston” one replies, “I’m from Minneapolis” the other smiles. All of a sudden I find myself vicariously center to a conversation of weather, city comparisons and other simple safe talk.

“Here is my opportunity,” I think. And grabbing my 365 business cards, I find a moment to introduce my project. “Perhaps, my tourist strangers will step up and tell me of their cities in joining 365,” I convince myself.

They nod their head with a smile, and intently listen to my description of the project, “We’ll check it out,” they engage as they depart leaving my café promoting friend and I alone in continuing the conversation.

“I’d love to be in it,” says my radiant companion of the scene, stranger now turned friend, Irina, who reveals the key to her presence, “Stay in the present, we spend too much time worrying about the future and carrying on in the past.”

More people walk by, and as we talk, Irina manages to keep focus in engaging with all those who pass by. That’s her job… Right?

I just watch and listen. Now there are many who can deliver a line, but Irina is not one of those people. What Irina delivers is sincerity. “Stay in the moment and don’t worry,” she says and it is apparent that is how she manages her life.

And in doing so it is acutely obvious that even though this is her job, Irina has found a balance of compassion and professionalism in truly using her employment to better know the people around her; I am impressed by her balance of work and self.

Have you ever had a friend that no matter how you are feeling, their aura helps you feel better about yourself? I barely know Irina, yet I’m pretty convinced that Irina is one of those people.

“This may sound cliché,” Irina says in forecasting her next statement. “We need to start working at peace, not so much about world peace, but the people on an individual level. There is too much personal fighting and not getting along.”

World peace, maybe a bit cliché, but where Irina directs the basis of her thought is very astute. Month back, we had a friend advice, “I’d rather see a lot of people doing small acts of kindness and good works than to see one great effort of one.”

Irina seconds that charge in suggesting that we work to resolve any part of our life’s or actions that out of accord.

“There is too much personal fighting and not getting along.” Yes… It is a very youthful call out. But as in yesterday’s entry, where we featured the works of Sir Ken Robinson and the, again not so cliché, words of young friend Heather, we must consider the thoughts of youth as powerful motivators.

Sir Robinson talks of the genius that children demonstrate; a genius that is not only academic, but a genius that allows for collaboration and an ability to coexist. Might we consider that as we age, we hold tightly to our youthful perspective of humanity; and for those of us who have lived to see it diminish, may we reignite the flame of optimism?

Those of us who are life weary might argue, “But that is to difficult, I’m too wounded, life is just not that way, grow up, or simply, the world is way to screwed up to matter anymore.”

“We need to start working at peace, not so much about world peace, but the people on an individual level,” Irina inspires.

Peace on an individual level. Whatever we may debate on the issue, Irina counters with a last bit of council, “And we underestimate the power of apology.”

Out of the mouth of babes, my friends.

Shall we all hang closely to our youthful thoughts!

Irina, thank you for the hello, you are making the world a better place!