SideWalk Ghosts5 / Interview 30: “Laughter Brings Happiness”

Today marks my last evening in Hawaii and the official end to the workshop I’ve been sharing with JPAC all week. It’s been an amazing journey working with great and incredibly unique people, many of whom I am now proud to call true friends.

On this last day of Hawaii time, I steal the opportunity to sleep in a touch (8am). With a full nights sleep, I’m ready to make every effort in meeting a 365 friend before the sun sets. Yet there is one thing I have learned for certain, if I am not in the right place, at the right time and ignore listening to the 365 voice, no pictures can be taken. Sounds strange, but I’m telling you, there is something greater than myself directing me.

So needless to say, writing this entry at 1:45am, kind of lets you know that my opportunity did not happen with sun in the sky.

I gave up on the day idea after rejection upon rejection. And as the horizon turned black with night, I shifted gears and dined with one of my new photographer friends, Aaron, who stepped up to be my evening city guide. I have to put him on the spot for a moment in stating, he is an incredibly talented man with a photographic gift from above. So I found myself in good company this evening.

In his support of 365, he escorted me to a highly trafficked shopping and restaurant area, telling me there will be much to photograph. What an understatement. I experienced nothing short of a sensory overload as we passed through upper end areas as well as the darker streets of town.

It was a visual and audio feast, sounds cluttering my head as I studied the countless bodies and faces that whirled around us. It was a sensory overload. “Who do I approach? Will they accept me? How will I photograph them?”

I approached two french men who were checking out the local hookers. There was something a little dark about them, and I was drawn in. We chatted briefly, but the language barrier was far too deep to explain why I wanted to take their photo, let alone interview them. Plus, perhaps they did not want to be documented in their current activities. So, they decline, and as they did, my gut agreed and was somewhat relived. Perhaps my draw to them was their colorful tee-shirts and not the 365 spirit?

Aaron and I walked for another ten minutes when I once again feel the 365 pull. Walking three or four steps in front of us were two travelers, with rolling luggage in tow. We passed them and the “they are your new friends” pull is undeniable.

In a flash, I knew that was the moment, and with my usual hello’s, Akiko and Sayaka join 365.

Again there was a language barrier, Japanese and English. But the spirit was much different from that of our French contacts earlier in the evening.

This experience is peaceful, joyful and full of hope. Both Aaron and I are engaged by the warmth of our new friends, who are in Hawaii for only a few days, celebration the birthday of Akiko’s father.

It’s hard for me to put in words the impact of this encounter. And even though our conversation is struggled, there is a bond of understanding. An invisible statement that says, we are in this world together, no matter where we come from. A theme we have already heard from many of our other 365 friends.

We spent most of our meeting carefully listening to each other… not wanting to misinterpret our conversation.

Time was short, it was late and I wanted to let these two special ladies be on their way.

One statement stood out strong.

With reflective pause, Akiko gives us these words of Japanese wisdom:

“Laughter Brings Happiness”