SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 223: “A Simple Kind Future”

Another Santa Monica shoot day in the can and the thought of stopping to again wander the coastal streets feels a little expected. The sun has dropped, my eyes are drooping, and even with the car-pooling companionship of production assistant J.C, my communication tool set is starting to shut down after a full day of studio directing.

I convince myself that the beaches will be full and route our return home along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). A disillusioned idea for sure, and one that becomes visually apparent as the sand clears of foot movement in it’s usual migration of beach goers, all of whom are content to leave the cooling wind in their auto encapsulated end of sunlit coastline exodus.

And there is no way I’m going to be the creepy walk up to car dude tonight, I just don’t have the energy for that right now. Maybe another time, someplace quite and safe, like a freeway on ramp or something of that sort.

PCH yields to Topanga Canyon for the inland trek, same thinking, “I’ll see someone.”

You got it, “Even more creepy to be accosted by the car driver wanting to take your photo and ask you a few personal questions.”

I’m telling you, “Sleep deprivation makes the mind do stupid bargaining.”

About this time, the crowds of Santa Monica are not looking that redundant anymore, and if not for the almost $5 a gallon price tag on fuel, I probably would have flipped an inter canyon U-turn, but budgetary prudence gets the best of me.

Out of the canyon I fly, actually, it’s more like a surge of swerving corrections forced upon me by my now sagging eyelids. And, through the grace of lowered window wind, I augment my awareness via the assistance of forcing a few Mr. Bean, “There is no way I’m falling asleep,” facial contortions.

I start to self-bargain one again, “No one will chasten me for missing one entry after not missing a day since the beginning of 365 way back in September.”

But I just can’t do it, and I know if I do, the recriminations that I will feel tomorrow will probably go deep into my psyche.

Almost 9pm now, and yep, the San Fernando streets are mostly clear. One option come to mind… reluctantly… The Topanga Canyon Mall.

J.C seconds my proposal with a buy in to a mall visit. Thus, prior to my dropping him off, and within two-mile of my cozy bed and a restful nights sleep, I find myself in the center of consumerism.

And again, per the tone of my 365 quest today, I have put myself in the midst of yet another exodus of fulfilled shoppers happily departing to the clangs of closing storefront gates. “I’m doomed… I’m fried… and it looks like it’s going to be an all nighter.”

The mall is echoing the still air of silence, and as it does, I spot what I hope is salvation, two figures enjoying cups of ice cream in the reclined peace of pillows and wicker.

“Hi my name is Richard, sorry to bother you… I’m a photographer and for the last 222 days I’ve been working on a project…” I engage in the usual 365 explanation.

“Sounds like a cool project, we have nothing to hide, only we are going to a movie that starts at 8:50pm, can we be done by then?” They respond.

I look at my watch, 8:40pm! “Ouch!”

Needless to say, our conversation is brief and the photo shoot even briefer, but what I find out about my two new friends, husband and wife, Travis and Cassandra is inspiring, especially for young parents.

Cassandra begins with a touch of empathy, “I used to do surveys, I know what you are going through.”

We talk about society and how too many are overly guarded in even looking at the people around them. A topic that guides us to bond with a re-confirmation as to the power we individually have in bringing people together with even the simplest of acknowledgments.

I ask Travis for his council to the world.

“’Wow! That’s a huge question, and it changes day-to-day, how about this, ‘We do things that we don’t know.’”

“Great quote,” I assure him.

“It’s not really mine…” Travis confirms, “…its Aristotle.”

He brings it home, “’Here is how I see it, ‘Know yourself, your minds workings, so you don’t get misled.’

We really can be happy with exactly what we have, like kissing your wife!”

I take that as a queue in bringing Cassandra into the conversation.

We check our watches… 8:50pm… previews are probably starting.

We speed up the pace as Cassandra responds with her wisdom. “’I worry about how much TV we watch. We have to turn off the TV and do other things. It takes us away from reality she proposes, ‘Like the Steven Wright joke about the guy lost in staring at a TV through a shop window.’”

Only minutes left, the main attracting must be screening any second; I shift to the final question regarding the days ahead of us.

Laughingly Travis stabs, “The planet going into the sun.”

He steps back from his joke and re-collects his thoughts, “I’m worried about the lack of variation. And even though I love the Internet, being able to see what other people have, and how they exist in the world, I still feel we need to keep our personal lives evolving.”

I’m a little under educated on the theories of variation, so Travis does his best to give us a sixty-second crash course, “Think about the Starbucks on every corner, sure I like my cup of coffee, but if we were all like Starbucks, there would be no evolution.

For any complex system to be robust… they must have variation.”

We have to end our talks, 8:55pm; the opening credits are about to roll. We conclude with two beats, a quick few frames of photography and a promise from Cassandra to email us her words for the future.

Those words just in as I type this entry, Thinking about the future is different for me now that we have children. While holding a baby, I wish for a world that is kind, gentle, and simple. When out with a happy toddler waving at random strangers, it’s wonderful when people smile back and wave. How great would it be if more people smiled and waved? When I see the future there are two little boys that we are raising that will someday be out there without me and it is scary sometimes. I want the world to be peaceful for them, I want the world to respect each other and treat each other well. I hope the future will be a happy place for them and for all of our children to live in.”