SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 191: “People Should Picnic More”

“What are you words of wisdom?” I ask Anna, my friend… no, may I say my savior this evening. Why savior? That is a grand title.

Briefly, it is a rainy night; everyone is scurrying or beginning their end of week check out, and even with my dashing charm, J! I am rejected ten times as I zigzag a twenty-mile area of wet and vaguely populated streets.

I sure that tonight the fuel companies love me, and my environmentalist self is beating on my sense of responsibility for my negative contributions to emission control and conservation.

Yet another two-hour excursion is upon me. I’m not griping, just setting the stage to a lesson of which I still have not mastered. That lesson is simply, “Richard (and all of us), we need to let go of pre-consideration in where, how and with whom we interact with in our daily lives.”

I drove for hours with a set of positive excuses. “Positive excuses?” What are those? I thought excuses were negatives?” the third debates as I write.

“Oh no! Richard your loosing it, third voices, are you talking to invisible friends now?”

It’s 5:30am, my habitual writing time, my eyes are droopy and the day is already rushing at me. Got to give a guy a little slack… don’t we?

Plus we’re closing in on 200 thousand words, and in the script of my Sci-Fi author friend and writing coach, Michaelbrent Collings, “Your style is getting more organic.”

Opps, distracted by the rising sun, seems I have wandered… “Positive Excuses? What in Sam’s heck are they?”

pos•i•tive ex•cuse  (noun) 1 a reason or explanation put forward to bolster confidence away from making an inspired decision or to self justify leaning wholly on the intellectual self: there is no way I will go to a place that I have been to before, no matter how much my core self directs me to do so. If I do people will think I am being lazy in my project. • a reason put forward to conceal the real fear for an action; a pretext: It’s ok if I wander aimlessly for whatever time it takes until I find the perfect person for todays interview, as a cover up for not allowing my fatigue of the week to slow me down into acceptance of where I am and in appreciating those around me.
(an excuse for) my actions in isolating myself in my vehicle, even after a proven track record of endless wanderings: I find the right person at the right time!

Bottom line, an excuse is an excuse, no matter how we spin it.

Two hours of driving, all the while crossing a center point where lies a Starbuck’s coffee house. A local that has pulled me in several time before. And choosing to ignore the fact that on this very rainy night it is the gather spot in the area, I tell myself, “I can’t go there, that’s the easy way out!”

“Your back, good to hear you talking to yourself, the third voice stuff was a little creepy.”

Yet on pass four of the corner of Ventura and Topanga Canyon, fatigue and a quickly dipping fuel gauge, finally reigns in my poorly defined friending route. “All right head, I’ll grab a hot drink and a snack and just see what happens!”

The place is buzzing with people, all in their own sphere of conscious, and all engaged in their own life moments. At first, I let my brain direct me with another set of positive excuses, “Good thing you stopped, and now that you have a hot belly and a sugar rush, we’ll hit the trails again.”

“What…!! Mind, are you nuts…! More aimless driving!?!

I fight back and in taking a deep breath, I decide to overcome the logical self in pushing myself to raise my chin to look, listen and feel.

The room slows, and in the midst of shoulder-to-shoulder movement, one soul stands still, Anna.

I observe her interactions, and in an instant I find myself on the opposite side of my yesterday’s experiment, that of smiling at the world around me, and waiting to see what happens. Seems that tonight, Anna has stolen my idea… Or has she?

There is something about her that is comforting and self-aware, I am drawn to introduce myself. So what if I am at the same Starbuck’s I have often frequented?

In one last futile effort my brain bounces back to my logical lobe, “No she is going to think you are a creep!”

The other lobe fires, “It’s a different night with a different culture, and glowingly, Anna is quietly at the center of this never again to be duplicated time frame, step up Richard, Respond to her energy.”

I listen; the logical lobe can be so pessimistic sometimes.

Now that the good cop, bad cop brain stuff is over and my hot drink called, I muster the courage to say hello. Anna explodes with acceptance of 365, and yet again, the inspired self win the battle over the thinking mind. Therein lies the lesson.

“I don’t know what to say,” Anna launches, “To give advise to the world…that is a huge thought…”

To veer away from the daunting question we decide to small talk for just a second, when suddenly her eyes light up.

“People need to smile more and for no reason. I don’t mean to just your friends and family, but when they are not people that you know. It is more important when it is random.”

Anna has a face that could grace to pages of beauty magazines, yet she is not about herself. A fact that is evident in the career path that both she and her husband have chosen, she an IFT and he a paramedic. Helping others is the silent message I read loud and clear in speaking with Anna.

We talk of our interactions with the world; in life, in family and in career, and in doing so, exchange a united view of the importance human interaction plays in the evolvement of a healthy society.

“I see it all the time at work,” Anna reveals, “I’m a IFT (Interfacility Transportation) and every day I transport many lonely people who only need one person to give them a smile or a little time for conversation. I try to be that person.”

Anna touches on another topic that all of us have discussed over and over again… Technology.

“I don’t like what technology is doing to human relationships. I’m not talking about the good uses of it, or even things like your blog, it is getting a good message out. I’m talking about how people do not live in the moment because of it. It’s like what happens at work. I’ll be driving with my partner who does not even know I am in the vehicle because he is so deep into his texting. We need to interact face-to-face.”

I won’t harp on this topic any further in this entry, and I’m sure it will come up again, but Anna does give us a cause of reflection, “I think many people are on the same page, but don’t know what to do about it,” she observes.

And with perfect Anna vibrance and twist of sweet humor, she leaves us this social note, “People should picnic more!”

For me, I’m off to the pantry, got to pack for tomorrow’s outing.

Talk tomorrow, my friends.