SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 244: “Be A Giver… Don’t Be A Taker.”

It’s a hot, still aired and brightly sunny as I seek refuge, perching myself on a set of shaded bleachers that overlook a field where my heat-loving daughter is blissfully enjoying her soccer practice. Shakes my memory back to my Las Vegas days of youth, and of my baseball practices in similar weather.

I have this theory: “All people are born with a limited amount of hot weather credits. Credits that are theirs to use when, how and where they desire.”

Being raised in the deserts of Nevada, I must have used them all early in my life. At eight years old, barefoot runs on baking sidewalks drew no blisters. At thirteen, desert forts, or should I say rock ovens, provided a place of rest, and at fifteen, 112 degree marathon bike rides promised a fresh breeze in the face. Three digits were the name of the game with all of us summer-enjoying kids unrelenting in answering the call of the sun.

It is apparent that my kid has inherited my once golden skinned genes – other than her red cheeks, the heat of the day has not impacted her. However, I’m a different story, sitting idle, sun credits depleted, safely cocooned in the attitude protecting shade and enjoying the happenings of the day.

It’s blasting hot as I am approached by groundskeeper Darryl (not photographed), “You may want to move, I need to water the field and you’re probably going to get some over-spray.”

Salvation has arrived, yet in it, a bummer of a reality hits me. My MacBook is in lap and we all know that water and electronics don’t mix very well.

I move to a drier place next to the control panel where Darryl and his helper are positioned, monitoring the watering.

No big deal, more new friends to talk to. I tell them about 365.  Darryl, although very intrigued, chooses to pass on being interviewed, understandably, “I’m on the clock, but you should interview my volunteer Demi.”

Feeling a little sun beaten and unprepared to be photographed, Demi initially declines. So we just chat, Darryl, Demi and I, no pressure, no pull of coercion, other than my sincere compliment to Demi’s photogenic looks.

“I bet you tell that to everyone,” Demi harasses me.

Not really. I’m a beauty photographer and a portraitist. I’ve learned to call things as I see them. I never bag on people, but if I have something constructive to say, I’ll be the first to say it.

“Thanks you, made me feel better.” Demi confirms as she looks towards Darryl for approval.

“You should do it,” Darryl encourages.

Demi pauses, “OK, let’s do it!”

“You only live once, but I bet you hear that all the time?” She begins.

But with this Demi throws an action item, “Take advantage of every opportunity that is put in your way.

“Community service has opened me up, and drives me to want to do more for the community.”

At only twenty-four Demi show great maturity in her outlook; I see why Darryl pushes her to speak with us.

Demi describes herself, “I’m into the conspiracy theory.”

“Like how?” I ask.

“I don’t believe we are the only planet that has life on it, not that we have been visited or anything. But it just makes sense that there is life on other planets.”

“That’s not really conspiracy…” I comment, expanding my opinion, “… you’re not talking of a big cover up or hidden agenda. You are talking of something that many of us accept. Why with an infinite universe can anyone say that we are the only planet that can support life? Doesn’t make sense to me either.”

We smile in agreement.

Demi cares about people, manifest in her optimism for those who are hungry and unsheltered. “Hopefully in the next fifteen years we will have enough food in the world where no one will have to go hungry. More shelters and food drives for the homeless.”

One comment catches me a little curious. “We’ll have more billionaire inventors.”

“You mean like the guys who came up with Google, Facebook and that kind of billionaire?” I confirm.

“Yea, I want to see more people find success.” Demi clarifies.

I think I get it. What Demi is talking about is not corporate greed – really the reverse. What she is talking about is a future that is open to allow for the innovation and rewards of personal initiative. And in this randomly inserted wish for the next generations, Demi has empowered us in giving us license to dream.

“Life is too short to hold grudges or to be mean…” Demi advises.

“… I would hate to one day look back on my life and say I missed an opportunity to help somebody.”

The sprinklers stop and I know it’s time to wrap,

“Do you have any last thoughts you’d like to express,” I conclude in readying my camera to take our photos.

I begin to focus.

“I have one more,” Demi pauses her pose, “Be a giver… don’t be a taker.”

Demi, keep giving… All you do counts!