SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 56: By Chance Or Not? You Decide

Matthew and Monica, Art Institute Students, Kids of Wisdom

Please believe me as I tell you that I am not going yogi on you with the metaphysical. But I have to tell you this 365 thing is very strange at times, still leading me to the right people, with the right message, at the right times.

It’s 7:30pm, I’m with my family and starting to sweat a little, thinking, “Here comes a late-nighter trying to find a 365 friend!” We’ve been to Home Depot, Target, and Ralph’s grocery store, followed by a bit of drive-by wandering of a few other local retail businesses, and even after trying to force a few conversations at each of the listed venues, no-one is ringing out.

Submitting to the evening, I ready these words for my wife, “Can you and Colette get to sleep without me tonight, I’m going to have to go on a 365 drive.” They are behind me, but worry that I’m going to get myself killed by walking into a stupid situation on my own. The Hawaii hostel experience is becoming Radstone household legend and fuel for a continued “Richard, watch your back!” reminder from wife and daughter. Especially when I hit the night streets on my own.

So here I am, cruising the parking lot, beginning to accept my fate of a long night and thinking of ways to avoid two things that seem destined to come: Zero sleep and the Watch your back council.

No joking, within seconds of my submission, crossing the front of my car pass two people; Visual Effects and Motion Graphics students Matthew and Monica. The voice rings out! That is them! Game on!

Quickly, I set my route to park, driving to the top of the parking lot and doing my best not to become a stalker in chasing them down in my car. That would be way creepy, wouldn’t it? I pull into a parking spot at the end of a row, grab my camera bag, and set a foot course to where they are parked. I slow my pace and casually approach them as they complete loading their groceries into their car. They catch sight of me. I throw the 365 invite and it is instantly apparent that we are all where we are supposed to be at this particular moment. — at least that’s my take. We’ll see if you agree as you read on.

My tribute to youth continues with these two creative kids. They call each other kids, so I am taking license to do the same. Yet the words they share are not that of children, but brave and dedicated creatives with quite a bit of life experience, especially Matthew. At one point into tonight’s interview Monica even diverts to him to further share his story. We’ll get to that in a second.

Monica is absolutely delightful. I can tell she is the catalyst of laughter between these two. They seem soul matched, leading me to ask if they are significant others? With warm hugs to each other they respond, “No, just friends.”

There are only two words necessary to fully describe Monica, “Free Spirit.” She cracks me up with her forecast of where she will be in ten years, “I’ll have no house, I’ll have no stability and will be traveling — meeting crazy people. Routine and all that crap annoy me.”

Her words of advise, “Just do it; there is nothing stopping you at all.” I ask, “Sounds like you have a lot of life experience?” I can see in her eyes that she wants to share some of her life, and I can tell that she has a thing or two to say, but she shifts to a humbler tone and redirects the question to Matthew. There is a very warm connection between these kids that touches me, and I quickly find out why. Matthew steps right up, “I have no problem sharing my history.”

“I was diagnosed with  HIV one year ago.” Monica quiets and keeps her eyes focused on Matthew; I can tell she admires him and is inspired by his trials and maturity. It is at this exact moment I know why we are here together: Matthew has council for us all. And his words need to be published.

He tells me of his growth in accepting this life changing illness and of his experience with a very materialistic roommate, both issues he faced in tandem. His take away:

“Don’t regret anything, everything has a lesson.”
“Hate doesn’t take you anywhere.”

“All you can do is look at the good, that will drive you forward in life.”
“Tell the truth. You can’t live with secrets — they always catch up with you.”

Matthew is ingratiating as I note his council. It is apparent that he knows what he is talking about and desires to help any others who need to hear his words. And by the look in Monica’s eyes, I know why they are friends. He grounds her and she pushes him. These friend are meant to be (Monica, Matthew, please forgive me if I am being too presumptuous, just a feeling I’m getting as I write this blog entry).

We pick back up the group discussion, the subject turns to why we meet this evening. And after Matthew bearing his history, we all seem to know why. We deepen the topic in talking a little about religion as Matthew expresses his interest in studying it. A three-way dialogue begins and  we all agree that there is much good in many religions. Our conclusion, it is about honoring fellow-man, acceptance of a higher power and striving for self-mastery in doing the right thing. We expand and discuss the worth of a soul and it eternal progression. Heavy topics, but the air is light and the conversation united. Readers, I’m telling you, I don’t direct these meetings or force the topics — they just happen, and I’m convinced it’s not by chance.

Speaking of chance. I learn a thing or two about social magnetism. Matthew brings up the Gestalt theory. I’m vaguely familiar with its application in design, but have never really pondered it’s sociological and psychological applications or its theories of social attraction. Something that Matthew has studied a little. He poses the question, “Could it have had any influence on our meeting this evening?”

I have Googled and studied it a little as I am writing this blog. I’ve not delved to its depths, only taking a quick read of ten or so sources. It is a very fascinating theory, making me think about my influence in the hows and whys of my friendships, networks, surroundings and even the outcome of 365.

Both Matthew and Monica leave me with these words. “We think this meeting is meant to be; the day has led up to it. It has been a great day and meeting up with you seems to be what we have been going towards.” All I know is when I first saw the two of them, the voice rang in my head. “It’s them you need to talk to.”

Matthew concludes with this (and from his comments, I can tell he is very spiritual), “I put on my xxx (Matthew, forgive me, I forgot what they are called) beads today,” he shows them to me, “Seems they led me here to share my message.”

Monica, keep smiling and dreaming.
Matthew, keep the faith.

And kids, thanks for the inspiration!