It’s around 10:30pm, one and a half hours away from the day’s end. And at day 315, the mere thought of a restart of 365, due to a missed friending is in no way acceptable. I promised a new friend every day, and by gosh, I’m no going to let us down.
To the teen dance I go, to as promised, pick up my chaperoning wife and daughter. And, with no idea of where I’ll be settling, and while I drive, I look to the sky in letting go to the evening (well as much as I can, being belted into the driver’s seat of my freeway traveling commute).
Time has proven to me that someone will appear with the right message for the day. So I settle in to watching the traffic as I let my mind numb to rebalance itself after a long day of commercial shooting.
10:45pm now… I arrive at the dance, the clock is ticking, last dance has been called and backgrounded by the scurrying of adult and teen gymnasium clean up, I grab a couple of family friends (the late night watch my back guys) and hit the streets in search of today’s friend.
10:48pm… within minutes we are pulling into a little strip mall where a few people are enjoying a caffeine nightcap. An elderly couple pleasantly dismiss me with a, “Not right now we have just been engaged.” I guess love is in the air and I’m no cupid to them.
10:50pm… countdown speeds up in knowing I have promised to be back for my family at eleven sharp. And on top of that, one of my escorting friends is actually an FBI agent. I realize this later when my wife tells me, “’When he said, ‘I’ll go with you… I’m packing,’ he was not joking.’”
Ten minutes until my camera turns back into a pumpkin, we begin walking to the front of the building of which we have parked behind, and as we do, we come across Julia sitting taking the last minutes of her work break.
“Hi my name is… bla, bla, bla,” I introduce myself, my friends (less any FBI reference, I’m sure that would have not gone over all that well) and 365.
“I’ve got three minutes left of my break, can we do it in that time?” Julia counters… and we are off.
“There is no such thing as regret,” Julia advises.
“There is a purpose in everything. I lost my job at Starbucks four years ago and now I am doing my dream job… helping kids with autism. And I am doing this job as a side job to make a supplemental income (Julia brings attention to the Coffee Bean logo on her hat). If I never left Starbucks, I would still be there… postponing my dream of working with kids who have autism.
Then after Starbucks… I worked at T-Mobile where I bumped into a woman that was a speech pathologist… she hired me.
Things happen… and I can’t regret that I ever left Starbucks. If I never left, this would have never happened, and I would not be working in my dream job.
Yea… short-term I was… Oh my gosh…! I lost my job…! It’s been ten years…!
Now I’m doing what I want to be doing… So there is no such thing as regrets.”
I’m confident that I can say that most of us have had adversity in our lives. It is probably one of the most absolute things we can expect in this mortal existence. But in listening carefully to Julia, what is highlighted is the notion, or maybe the fact, that there is a force in the universe that is greater than us. And in accepting it, as well as our circumstances, there is cause to accept whatever the situation.
“Things happen,” Julia petitions as she faces reality.
But paralyzed she is not, for in the heart of the storm of loosing a ten-year career investment, to a greater plateau she has climbed; one that she might not have summited without the loss of her job security.
I ask Julia to make a prediction for what people can do in preparing for the world ahead of us. “First we need more humanity and we need to travel the world more. If we would experience other cultures and other people, and lose the egocentric ways of our own personal nation, our minds would open to other lifestyles and other cultures. The foods… the religions… the… If we experience it, our tolerance becomes bigger because we are not egocentric ogres in our own ways and our own thoughts… so we need to travel!
I’ve been to China, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Switzerland. Whenever I travel I always try to go to the rural parts so that I can get away from Western influence just to really experience what other cultures are.”
I’ll take it a few clicks down from needing to travel the world. That for many is a very expensive proposition, especially for those who are working to support families and children.
The bright side of the coin, however, we do not really need to board an airplane to travel to new cultures. For in just about any town, village, country or state, there are places or people unknown to us. Find them and work to understand them. In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s about all I have to say about that.”
I can help but to ask Julia of her long-term goals… you’ve got it, “I am working to gain my degree in speech pathology and to become a therapist so that I can mainly help kids with autism as well as stroke victims, they need help with their speech too.”
Every once in a while for reason I’ll never figure out a third question comes to my mind. Tonight is one of those nights.
“What would you say to anyone who is caught up in judging others at first sight?” I ask.
Julia replies, “’Judge all you want… it does not change me or them. The opinions of others are their own self-reflections of themselves. So if they see a negative attribute the questions really is: ‘Why to they see that?’ or ‘What do you see in yourself to create that image?’ We always have to remember that our vocabularies only grow from what we know.’”
10:58pm sharp… Looks like Julia is keeping her job and there will be no need for a FBI motivated escort back to my 11:00pm commitment in picking up my family.
Talk tomorrow my friends, 365 beats on!