SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 228: “Laugh, Think and Cry”

She says as she walks by me with a dismissive and antagonistic look, as if I am non-human and transparent, “Your a photographer… that’s nice.” And this is only the front end of a barrage of knee buckling and similarly harsh rejections. Then there’s the guy on the bike, “A photographer! Hah! I’m sorry! The world sucks that’s all I have to say, I’m not interested in sharing my thoughts (Well he kind of did).”

I lose count of the “Leave me alone camera guy” jousts and upon the most subtle brush off from the couple walking hand in hand, “Cool… But later dude,” I almost resign my efforts in this neighborhood.

I look at my watch in contemplating relocating to another street. But with the reality of the need to pick my daughter up from school in only fifteen minutes, it is not prudent for me to leave the area. Subsequently, with my emotional fibers exposed, and my nerves a little shaken, I reset my determination in making a friend in this location… and on this stroll.

And even though the rejections have been ceaseless and I’m slightly numbed by the apparent judgments that I feel have been fired at me, I let go of my insecurities to stay on track.

Up and down the block I repeat my path, challenging myself to at least say hello to all who dare to keep their chin up on this cloudy day. As I do, I fight off the sadness that just moments ago overcame me from coming across so many abrasive get out of my face gestures.

Yet, it is this very sadness that lifts me up in belief that for as many unapproachable people there are in the world, there are just as many, if not more, who are willing to reach out. The odds have proven this fact to me; I’ve met far too many people who share a more optimistic point of view. So I walk on, acknowledging everyone in my route, dismissals and all.

Forty-five minutes have clicked by and as I stated earlier, it’s only minutes before my child finishes school for the day. There is not much time left, and upon spotting one last earphone-wearing commuter of public sidewalk, I decide to look beyond his music appreciation and throw myself upon the court of Doug.

Doug silences his music to hear what I have to say, and with an accommodating grin he joins us with one condition, “I’ve got seven minutes, I have to pick my kid up from school. If we can do it in that time, I’m in.”

We jump right to the point, “If you could share any wisdom, advice or council with the world what would you say?”

Without hesitation Doug paraphrases a quote from late basketball coach of legend, Jim Valvano, “Every day you should do three things, laugh, think and cry.”

I did a Google search for Coach Valvano, his quote is very impactful when you put into perspective of where and when he said it. Per Wikipedia, “’Jim Valvano died of Cancer and on March 3, 1993, shortly before his death, he spoke at the first ESPY Awards, presented by ESPN. While accepting the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award, and as he announced the creation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. He introduced the Foundation’s motto ‘Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up.’”

Here are Coach Valvano’s words from that day, “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

“I do my best to live my life this way,” Doug mirrors in speaking of Jim Salzano’s example.

“The Future…?” Doug ponders, “…we are going to go through a lot of growing pains, and in the end, we will all be in a better place.

I think there is going to be even more of a global economy. I won’t live to see it, but my grandchildren will.

It won’t matter what country you live in… it will be a one-world type thing.

I remember when I was in school and the Soviet Union fell, people thought that would never happen… but it did.

The old school dictators are dying off, and a new generation is growing. And they want a different life.

And even thought the political powers still try to keep the information from us, they can’t anymore.”

Doug’s outlook on the future rings with resonance, and after speaking with over one thousand people since September 9, 2011, I have to let you know that this sentiment is unanimously shared by many, especially within the eighteen to twenty-five year old age group… the literal foundation of our future leaders.

Let us hope that these reformers of the future stay true to course, and avail of corruption as they step up to do as they may. I’m counting on it; like Doug, not for myself… but for the future of my kid.

Even though I have been rejected much this day, it has been worth it. For in the seven minutes Doug has convened with me, my optimism has been restored, and my perspective regarding the good in people has been refreshed.

In quoting legend Jim Salzano, Doug exemplifies the words of a compassionate leader.

“Everyday we need to laugh, think and cry,” Doug passes to us.

And in the hour past I feel as if I have experienced all. I’ve welled up at the tone of unnecessarily harsh rejections, thought about my child’s future and smiled with a new friend in hope for a greatly united people.

We agree that a big contributor to what is to come is in the hands of the young men and young women of today… Many of whom I have spoken with first hand over the last 227 days, and many of whom are on the right path. In publishing this, I ask all twenty-five and under to do us proud! The future is in your hands!

Doug, thank you for quoting coach Salzano and for your positive outlook towards a smaller much more connected planet.

Talk tomorrow, friends!