SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 195: Yoda Lives

Jokingly he says, “I’m like Yoda, aren’t I?”

But in his jest there is an air of truth. Like a good friend of mine says, “The truth is in the joke.”

The day winds down to my last four actors

It’s been a full day, and one that has pushed me to miss my time stamp in posting my entry today. I can’t believe it. Wrote the article at 5:00am this morning, knowing that I would be tied up in a casting session all day. My thinking was that I would press the publish button at lunch.

Evidence of the time. The bummer is the blog time stamp changes every day at 5:00pm. I miss today by twenty-seven minutes.

My plan falters when a real lunch break does not happen. So at 5:27pm with the room cleared of the last few talent, my stomach turns. 194 days of perfection in posting time stamps, not one date skipped, how perfect is that.

And today I miss my posting by only twenty-three minutes, and the irony is that I’ve been ready to post for twelve hours. I’ve got to say, even though I have not missed a day of meeting a stranger, I take my missed time stamp as a great failure.

My head is low, and I feel as if I have let you down. But by no means can I accept a twenty-three minute time miss as a reason to quit 365.

What can I say? Got to let go a little and give myself a little slack I guess, everyone misses a beat now and then.

But I think you can read into the trouble I’m having in letting go of the error, even as I write, that I am very hard on myself regarding my commitments. Or perhaps I am whining. I don’t really know want I am feeling. It’s strange; stress and relief flow through me; two of the most opposite emotions, but the mind wave in my head none-the-less. Brainwaves that I just can’t shake as I close my business day with a final farewell to the staff at our rented studio, 5th and Sunset (a Los Angeles destination for smooth production and accommodating service).

Into the production offices I go, you know, the general business stuff.

“We’re done; how do you want to handle billing?”

I’m met by owner, Keith, and there is something about him that is greater than the usual business etiquette. It’s in his eyes, in a situation where many would jump right to end-of-day billing matters, Keith’s major concern is, “How did your day go?”

Again, no real big deal, sounds like a usual customer service query. Except with Keith I sense something deeper than the expected business mask that many wear in their daily professional affairs.

Keith is real, and in his how did your day go? I am drawn to know more of his outlook.

Without much prompting Keith steps up, actually steps out from a conversation with staff, to  join 365 by sharing his perspective.

We find a quiet spot in the reception area of the studio complex and, grabbing a seat in a set of funky barber chairs, I ask question one: “What words of wisdom would you like to share with the world?”

“Just start to treat each other better. If we do so, I promise you will get much more out of life,” Keith champions.

The golden rule strikes again! We always love to hear it, but after so great a numbers of shares, is there more to it?

Keith talks of the results that reaching out has had in his life, “Because I was nice to people, and people have been nice to me.”

“Sure dude, you run a hip studio, meet all kinds of interesting people and get paid for it. What’s so hard about that?”

It’s so easy to look at the present and forget that in all successes, or failures, there is a history. And just like all of us, Keith has one too.

“How did you get here?” I inquire.

Keith provides a brief time line.  I went to photo school, was a pro tennis player, then stunt man before I landed here.

What he combs over are the crises moments, moments that now, with my own story, I can read loud and clear in connecting the dots.

Keith, please forgive me if I am being presumptuous in what I am about to write. There is a gut motivation that is forcing me the call it as I see it,  and I promise, it is a tribute to your outlook.

“I worked in a Universal Studio stunt show by night and at the rental counter of an equipment rental house for awhile. Then I injured my knee in a show and had to start working full-time at the rental house. One thing led to another and now I have 5th and Sunset.” Keith exposes in the small talk.

Being a photographer, or any form of performer in Los Angeles, is a very difficult proposition, and one that is filled with rejections and poverty days.

So how in the world can an injured, underfunded stunt man, make the ascent to owning one of the premier studio rental facilities in California?

He already said it, “Because I was nice to people, and people have been nice to me.”

It is more than apparent that Keith has never lost that virtue, and that is what has inspired me to sit with him in conversation this day. And in his eyes and comfortable delivery of his message he encompasses a hidden story of never giving up, buying into negativity or comparing his situation to that of others.

“I’m an optimist, and I think people are starting to realize the planet is getting smaller. Because of that, I think they are starting to understand, or a least are beginning to work towards tolerance.”

We talk of Chris’s reversal of the theory of 20/20 and of the past battle for civil rights. And as did Chris, we talk of the insanity of the past and the way we view the similar issues now.

The topic stirs Keith to share a story that affected the way he looks at the world and what he encourages us to mirror.

“I went to school at Parsons in New York. I had a roommate from Tupelo, Mississippi. He was a really cool guy, but was carrying a dark conflict. I found this out during a talk we had one day when he told me, ‘I was raised to hate black people. But since I met me you, I have no idea of why I thought that way,’ I’ll never forget that conversation, it forever changed the way I look at people.”

Keith has worked hard and demonstrated great patience in getting to where he is in life. There are no certainties for what’s to come for any of us, that fact is global.

For each of us our challenges are unique, some day are full of gains, and other bogged in the muck of life, yet in both we have our agency to either ascent or to descend, and in the end we do have control of our progression. It’s a matter of mind-set and perseverance. In the words of Keith, “It’s up to us to make our own silver lining in every event of every day, easy days or difficult ones alike.

“We can only strive for perfection, but there is no guarantee it will happen.”

Perfection, we can only strive for it?

Day 194 Leaves me imperfect in my daily time code, but like I said, I still met my stranger Jodi. Her message is important, and perhaps the extra time her posting floated did some good somewhere.

Thanks Yoda Keith, I feel better now.

Talk tomorrow, my friends.