SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 359: “Calvin, I’ve Always Liked That Name”

Calvin shares an iconic peace sign.

“Stop it! That’s it… Stop It!” Calvin pleads.

“We all need to stop it…! We are such a joke around the world… We just need to stop it!

Stop everything… the cheating, the lying, the politics, the don’t give a damn about your fellow-man, don’t care about your family, too much divorce, robberies, gang bangers killing people like it’s a video…

My words of council would be to stop it! Look at how you’re hurting the world… look how you’re hurting people.” Calvin advises as he looks to the future?

“In one year I don’t see the world being any different than it is now. It’s going to take something catastrophic… and I don’t mean an asteroid hitting the Earth.

He gives an example, “’Like with the gang bangers, some day somebody is going to shoot the wrong person…some day and everyone is going to say, ‘That’s it!’

The police, the National Guard are going to have to go into the ghetto and crack this down. The Liberals are going to say, ‘You can’t do that,’ but we’re going to have to do something… something is going to happen somewhere.

In a year nothing is going to happen… In one hundred years…? If we are still a planet…? then, I would hope… I would think… that something would have changed, because it does. Look back on the past and at where we are now. In one hundred years, I would have hoped that everything would have come full circle.

I watch TV sometimes and watch Leave It To Beaver, or some of those shows from back in the days… Ozzie and Harriett. And you just can’t think of how they talk on TV today as far as sex, politics and everything.

Like the bigger brother on Leave It To Beaver, calling his friend, ‘You rascal.’ I mean who talks like that today. Hopefully we’ll come back to that. It seemed life was better, easier, and slower in those days. And, I hope that in one hundred years everything would have come full circle and people have manners, people have principle, people have respect for their fellow-man, politic would have come back to where it was years and years and years ago when it actually cared about the country, not about your four years… Or it could just be a pile of crap.

I think since man has been on this planet, we have not done anything good for it. If someone doesn’t make it stop, I think this world is doomed. We used to fight other people with uniforms on… that almost does not exist now. We have people killing each other and then running into a school with a bunch of children to keep shooting. Something has got to happen; otherwise we are going to destroy ourselves.

I don’t know if I have a lot of faith in man to do the right thing, but who else is going to do it… Hopefully man will wake up one day and change things. I don’t know if a hundred years can do it, or if something will happen in the next ten years. I hope so… I’d like to see that before I die.

Who is Calvin? (By the way, Calvin is an alias, my new friend wants to remain un-named)… An amazing man with an amazing history, I run into him and his friend (we’ll call him “D” in protecting his identity as well) outside of a Coldstone Ice Creamery.

I approach them at around 9:00pm as they sit at a table just under the La Riena Spa on Ventura Boulevard; just a few clicks North of Van Nuys. I’ve passed them several times in walking tonight’s semi-populated streets. For over an hour, I’ve been looping three city blocks and after several conversations with a variety of strangers, no one is willing to interview.

The night is getting late, the streets are thinning, and on my forth lap past La Reina, I can no longer halt myself from approaching Calvin and “D” as they finish their meal in reclining into conversation.

At first I am a little inhibited to reach out to them, they are a little intimidating for some reason, but as I get to know them, I understand what gives them their edge.

But it’s not the kind of edge you would imagine, they are not tattooed, have no loud presence or project any attitude of aggressive behavior. What they have is a confidence that says, “We are in our space… and all is OK.”

A space that at first has me feeling that I may have violated or distracted them in walking into their time, but being at the last week of a one-year effort, I’ve come to the point in realizing that I must face my fears. If I am proclaiming stepping into the shoes of others, then I cannot let any inhabitation redirect my efforts.

What I find out in one hour of conversation is a life expander, both are referees in the arena of professional fighting, both have served our country in the Vietnam War, both are understanding and filled with compassion and both are extremely open in sharing their life and advice with me.

“D” gives me a lesson in life mastery in comparing our human existence to the life of a fighter. “We all have fear… We all experience Pain… We all experience Joy… And we all must respect one another. That is what it is like to be a fighter. They are constantly working on self-mastery to be the best they can be and in finding out what they are capable of. For most of them it is not about money or fame, it’s about understanding self. Sure there are some who are not like that, but the majority are.”

I know both of these men have values. They talk of family, children and of the discipline required to be a good human. My eyes will never look at a fighter the same again.

“They talk the talk, go into the ring and fight, but after the fight, win or loose, most of them go out and party together. They are professionals and the pre-fight stuff is just part of their job,” D and Calvin tell me.

The mirror to life is this, when the talk settles, the battles are over, and wars of opinion, issue or whatever are over… whether won or lost, do we still look upon our opponents, our fellow human beings, with the dignity they deserve.

I know, I hard thing to do, but after sitting with two men of confidence and life experience who get it, I must say, I am inspired to lengthen my stride in trying to do so.

Calvin… D… thanks for the evening, and advice, my friends, I’ll keep my eyes out for you on ESPN.

And per you time in the military… and be it a late as it is… Welcome Home and Thank You!