SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 365: “Many Paths – One Journey – One Destination”

365 days of discovery, hundreds of photos of new friends and thousands of words written… I’ll not look at the world the same again. And, exactly who do I interview in completing my last day of a one year challenge; a challenge that has empowered me with a mission that has literally changed the course of my future, and has so enhanced my outlook on the world?

And now, I am face to face with the question that has been my weightiest thought for the last couple of weeks, finding someone who can encapsulate the unifying purpose in which 365 has uncovered? A quest for a spokesperson who strives for understanding, or at least has the chops to accept all sides of life’s arguments; one who can set the stage in summarizing the spirit of 365.

Like I said, my life is now empowered with a mission, and “Project 365” has proven to be the genesis in putting me at the helm of a greater voyage. A journey that is slated to travel a route of discovery through the upcoming launch of “Operation-365:” Its destination… to Awaken and Unite a new kind of global community.

Secondarily, we have also explored another question over the last twelve months, “What is a stranger?”

You’ve been with me as we have investigated the answer. It’s findings, there are strangers all around us. Perhaps they are the people we meet randomly in unknown places; or the people we notice from afar, always wanting to, but intimidated to approach; even could be people who are associated with other people we know, or those strangers we often overlook, you know, the one’s who regularly appear in the midst of our every day lives… yet somehow we never really take the time to fully introduce ourselves to them in finding our who they are.

So, as I have mentioned a few times, I am a cyclist and teach a spinning class several times a week. Been teaching it for about six years, and even though I know many of the faces in my classes, even first names of most of my hard-working cardio burning buddies, I don’t really know all that many of them. For the whole 365 project I’ve decided not to invite any of them to 365, telling myself, “That would be cheating.”

But today, I can govern myself no longer, for as I finish a one-hour session of sweat and peddling, an overwhelming magnetism to reach out to one of my newly regular class attendees, Denny, will not escape me.

He accepts with open arms, saying, “You are an answer to a prayer that my wife and I were having this morning.” This in itself catches me off guard and confirms of a notion that was shared with me only days ago, when Rabbi Mentz (Day 362: We Are On The Right Road) positioned, “Every soul is connected.”

Now I don’t want to get too spiritual or overly cosmic, but there is one thing I have grown to genuinely accept, and I am not saying that I am anywhere close to understanding it, is the fact that intuition is a real thing. And wherever our subconscious thoughts or hearts feelings come from, they are more powerfully correct than we comprehend. And Denny’s reaction to my reaching out to him, only solidifies that notion.

We are sweat drenched and I have no camera with me (was not intending to conduct any 365 interview during class, that’s just too uncool), so we agree to meet later at a coffee-house central to where we both live.

I would have never thought in a million years that I would conclude my 365 days of reaching out to strangers with someone whom I share space with on a regular basis. But even with this fact, I can shamefully admit that I regularly forget Denny’s name. And surely, I know nothing about him, other than small amounts of passing small talk, and the now inescapable prod of my frontal lobe pushing me to get to know him.

One thing I can certainly say, Denny is now a friend for life… and I will never forget his name again.

If you had the stage, the microphone is in your hands and the world was listening, what words of council, advice or wisdom would you share?
“First to breath deeply… for quite a few minutes, until you gather your thoughts… then to accept what is happening… and then to make adjustments.” Denny replies.

“There is a poet,” Denny adds, “’… I forget his name, but he said, ‘We start here and then we go full circle.’ What I get out of it is this, we come around… we come back to the same place where we started… but we know it anew… we know it differently.

That’s what the breathing and the acceptance and the adjustment is… I’m coming around full circle, and I have to adjust to a different life.

People are saying, ‘that’s sad… that all these things are ending… and they themselves are gonna end. But really the way to look at it is, ‘We are in the acceptance part, and the adjustment is coming.’

I think the answer is not to panic… to be patient… yeah, the situation is not going to change… so we have to accept it.

You can beat your head against the wall, and I have, but I wound up in a mental hospital, I wound up on drugs, and finally God said, ‘Are you finished… are you done… are you done messing around… just sit down… take a breath… accept it… learn from it… and adjust… its time to move on.

Know what you can’t fix… and know what you can.’”

Denny, has had a life of great trials, from physical, to emotional, to spiritual he hides none of his past. Yet in his eyes, and even though he is carrying a penny sized tumor that is growing in his Kidney, his eyelids are wide open to the joys of life, and in him can be seen the greatest of respect for the world around him. Yes, Denny is a banner bearer for optimism and a proclaimer of faith in humanity. He speaks as if people are at core… decent. And he believes that the works of any individual can yield magnificent results.

What about the future?
“The other words that are coming into my mind,” Denny charges us to action, “‘Become aware.’ Just become aware! Just by the fact that you become aware, you make adjustments.’

I think human beings haven’t changed from day one, and I don’t think they are going to. You can read from the oldest literature there is, including the scriptures, and your going to see similar human failings and situations… like the seven sacred sins of Gandhi. And these are things that are going to keep happening.'”

I look them up:
Wealth without Work.
Pleasure without Conscience.
Science without Humanity.
Knowledge without Character.
Politics without Principle.
Commerce without Morality.
Worship without Sacrifice.

“‘And I don’t know if we can change those things, but by bringing people’s attention to them… and their awareness of those things, we stand a greater change of spreading the peace.

I think that is what Jesus and all the great leaders did. He did not come in with an army, like they wanted him to, and wipe all the Romans out. He did it in love, and in acceptance… and people spit on him.

Pilot asked him, ‘What do you have to say for yourself?’ But he did not say anything, ‘It is as you said.’

For us to be able to just sit there, and for me that is so contrary to how I grew up – because I had to fight for everything. I mean I got suspended from school for fighting numerous times. I wasn’t going to let anybody push me around or intimidate me. Now I’m having to re-learn… and that’s hard. So I don’t see the world changing, because people are not going to change… but I think individuals can change.

Putting our arms around somebody else. With politics we cannot force people to change… so we can only love them to change. I did not grow up with love the way love should be. I’ve had to learn that through all the difficulties in life… these pains… the substance abuse… the jail. I did not know that I was learning. But, I knew that God had a goal for me over here, and that I had to go through this.

I think we can change… human nature… I think the writings will say that. But I think like God has directed us… living contrary to the world is the best way to save it.

Denny has spoken, and in his words can be found a limitless list of encouragements; advice that we all can take hold of in navigating our own destinies. And in his words is the motivation to carry forward good works and thoughts in considering our fellow humans.

The back window of Denny’s truck is covered with motivational stickers, “Pedal for Peace,” “Running – Cheaper than therapy,” “iHike.” But in all, one jumps forward, It reads, “Many Paths – One Journey – Same Destination.”

One more note about Denny, he can run and ride for hours. “I’m very competitive,” He confidently states. But in his confidence there can also be seen a peace in acceptance of his limitations. “If I’m tired, I don’t complain, no one want’s to hear that. Plus, it brings you and others down. It’s better to look on the bright side of things, and lean towards the positive energy.”

He shares with us his self-observed life commandments:
1. Watch what you put in your mouth!  Food, Alcohol, Prescription Drugs, etc.
2. Move your body till you sweat at least 60 minutes a day.
3. Hang with positive inspirational people: Books, authors, etc.
4. Love unconditionally family and friends.
5. Spend 45 minutes a day with your Higher Power (God). Half the time spent in listening.
6. Make the difference in at least 1 person’s life each day. Say or do something that makes them feel worthy.
7. Laugh daily and do not take yourself so serious. Don’t control life… let it come to you… evaluate, accept and adjust.
8. Use fewer words each day and listen more. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
9. Go somewhere spiritual once a week… mountains, beach, church, gardens, etc.
10. Let go of the hurt! We all have a little boy or little girl inside that has never forgotten. Deal with him/her! 🙂

Denny, I now know why I was told to let you wrap my 365 project. All you say makes sense.

There is almost a tear in my eye as I share my most common sign off, “Talk tomorrow my friends.”

But really, this is only a new beginning to a greater exploration. A global community is forming in a new digital continent. And I’m working on building the ship that will take us there. For now we will christen it Operation-365. You have not seen the vessel yet, but it has left port and will be coming to you very soon.

There is no need to pack, to get travel vaccinations or the worry about your itinerary. All that is asks of you to continue in keeping your chin up and eyes open to the world. For on it’s bow reads the theme of its activity director: Awake and Unite!

There is but yet one last stranger to introduce you to, and tomorrow you will meet him, who is he you wonder… myself.

Still one more time, “Talk tomorrow my friends… love you guys!”