SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 211: “Family values…We Need To Get Back To That”

“Everything is about an open mind and heart. As long as we understand that everyone has their own truths, and that we don’t need to change them. What we do need to do is respect them and acknowledge that everyone is uniquely different. Out differences are a good thing.” – Luis: Dentist, Photographer, and Stranger Turned Friend of day 211.

“Dentists are artists and my focus is on cosmetic dentistry; every patient is different and to be able to help in taking them out of pain and in giving them a nice smile is the best part of what I do.

“It’s about helping a person to be what they want to be, and to help them feel better about themselves. I’ve seen people’s personalities change. It’s great to see their esteem grow in feeling they can do what they want to do. I love my job.

“You have to like what you do and do it your best. Life is about enjoying what you do and work and life have to be together. Everything: from family, to work, to relations, to play.”

An ambassador for what I am calling “life-sight,” Luis speaks of the world, “Everything is beautiful. So many people go through life in a tunnel. They not stop to see the world.”

I ask Luis about the future and in harmony to his outlook on beauty, he realistically phrases his hope for the future, “We are in difficult cross roads and I’m not sure what will happen. We need to integrate ourselves in a heart/mind way. There are too many extremes. I’d like to see the race barriers disappear. And for that to happen the hate and extreme points of view need to disappear.”

What of this beauty for the world thing that Luis talks of?

He and I chat for some time regarding this topic and as we talk it is obvious that he is not wearing rose-colored glasses. Luis is no newcomer to his perspective. This is evident in his disposition. I will not say that he and I divulge any deep life histories, so I am reading between the lines; lines that are opened in knowing that Luis has kept his family values.

As an immigrant to the United States from Guatemala, Luis carries a humanistic wisdom and an understanding of global community. A community that is of obvious priority in the way he speaks of the people in his circle of influence. Luis is a man of balanced perspective.

I meet him, along with his wife of forty years, Olga, this day at a rather upscale park in Laguna Hills. The moment I step up to him with a hello, he is warm and charming. No pomp, no barriers, and no dismissive responses. Really quite the opposite in expressing his interest in who I am and in what I am doing.

Truly I can say that I have met a new friend, and not only a friend, a fellow photographer.

“Photography energizes me,” Luis exposes (no pun intended).

A few of Luis’ Photographs

Luis is a true artist through and through. Not only in the way he views everything in his path, but also in his compassion towards his co-humans; a man of real compassion and conviction to do what he can to leave a positive footprint in his life and to be of service to those he associates with, patient, family, friend and stranger alike.

They say that beside every good man is a good woman, and in briefly meeting Olga, this sentiment is manifest.

We don’t speak for long, the grandchildren are calling and with a personal dinner commitment drawing close, we summarize.

Her advice is simple. “We need to get back to loving family values.”

Olga, Luis and I ponder the power of her council and conclude with a few observations.

Things like the pace of this generation: media, new technology, religious alienations and the pressures of a difficult economy. We come to a conclusion. “A good family will always survive any obstacle. No matter where, or with what, it will carry forward and its influence will go around everywhere.”

Olga wraps our discussion, and with the warmth of a seasoned mother, she smiles, “Family values…we need to get back to that.”