SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 343: “Alfonso’s Example And A Ping Pong Invitation”

6:00am… take a walk in the neighborhood in readying myself for the day. As I stroll, passing many a house, I ponder the years have I lived in my home, the added twenty my wife has resided on our block (we bought her parents house) and the one year of my 365 awareness. In it, a stream of thought, one that directs me to a stark conclusion, “I am nowhere near even cracking the surface of the depth of humanity that lives in my area.”

Absolutely, I am more in touch with my community, both with those who readily accept me, as well as those who time and time again choose to ignore my subtle hellos (must be the edgy impression that I throw off. Sure dad… your out of control… not).

But turned heads, and eyes locked to the ground do not sway me, for in every rejection there is an equally resonating acknowledgement of what we are doing with 365.

And with two bold brush-offs beginning my morning, I stagger not. For there are visions of new friendships in my head… so I forge on, knowing that to odds are in my favor.

Across Alfonso my route takes me, and just as I have done for thirty minute, I reach out with a smiling, “Good Morning My Friend.”

Alfonso reciprocates and we strike up a 1940’s style sidewalk conversation. Our language is a little struggled, but not too much to see eye-to-eye on the importance of community.

“Respect each other,” Alfonso contributes as I find out he has lived in his house for twenty-two years.

Originally from Mexico, he has settled into a comfortable life in raising children and grandchildren. And inspired by his career (Alfonso works in electronics manufacturing) plus opinions grown from watching the activities of his grandchildren, he asks us to be aware regarding the society ahead.

“There are a lot of electronics… if we have a problem… it is going to be a big problem.”

Everything is going that way.”

I confirm what he is expressing in wanting to be sure we are on the same page. So I reconfirm, “Is it going to be a problem?”

Alfonso: “In my life… No… Maybe another generation,” he speculates.

We might think that Alfonso has lived the larger percentage of his life, and is turning the world issues over to the next generation, but that is not the case. And, as 365 has proven on many an occasion, this week is running it’s own theme… conservation.

And for Alfonso, it is a conscious choice to conserve water, something that I can tell instantly by comparing our matching front yards of yellowed grass. I guess it’s better to grow a few more weeds than to overuse our resources. Also, I’ll be shallow enough to admit, I’m trying to save a buck or two.

It’s funny how the utility companies have a shrewd way of accessing yearly rate increases, claiming drought as the reasoning. But on the other side of the season, when the rainfall begins, and the water use drops, they never quite seem to figure out how to lower our utilities using the same scale. I’ve given up trying to figure the math.

Sorry, another Radstone rant, and again my Achilles heel has been exposed. But, meter readers… know that I still like you guys… and gals… It’s not your fault what happens in the boardrooms.

Alfonso obviously is in the same boat as I and has it nailed as far as conservation; low pressure water as he washes his car on the grass, cleaning and watering at the same time… Really smart, greener grass, shiny chrome, and lower H2O use, all at the same time… very cool.

And once more, I see no stream of polluting detergent running into the street gutter, a detail that eloquently hits me in reflecting the copy of a sidewalk sign I just passed. Over it a plaque reads, “Whatever you put in here reaches the ocean.”

I can’t say that Alfonso has chimed any new chords in his advice and actions, but after 343 days, that is a hard thing to do for anybody who contributes to 365. We have covered so much ground, but equally powerful as unheard words is the empowering fact that the more we hear of similar perspective, the greater the impact of 365. Many a language we have spoken, many a faith we have approached and many an opinion or attitude have we encountered. But the wonderment of it all is this. “We share far too many concerns to turn away from each other.”

Yes, it is a fact that this first version of 365 is nearing it’s close. I’m proud to be part of such a growing community. And amazingly, our numbers are large enough to be of influence to the world around us. Never have I been so absolute about anything as this statement. Literally twenty-three days to the end of this chapter of our call, “We are all in the thing together”

And in our journeys I have not held back in doing my part to pass on the message of community and tolerance. So to save your ears from having to hear me express a charge, I relieve myself of post for a moment, in turning the podium to Alfonso’s words,“Respect each other.”

Pass it on… my friends… we are only just beginning our outreach!

And for you LA locals, don’t forget to mark you calendars, This Saturday, August 25, 3:00pm to 7:00pm… The Ping Pong Council. Click for details.