365 has posed this question, what is a stranger?
In the beginning of my journey, I was resolute that a stranger is a person who is completely isolated from my circle of influence. And although this is still a major part of my quest in meeting my friends, I have come to realize that there are so many more strangers around me, ones that this rule is overlooking.
I’m a compulsive kind of guy. That compulsion has been both an asset and a barrier to me. Why do I share this character trait with you?
For the first sixty days of 365, as a said above, I worked by the steadfast rule, “A stranger is a person who it completely isolated from my circle of influence.”
At 98 days, I now know that my stranger rule is flawed. There are so many more levels of strangers that I have rudely ignored, one’s that at many times are closest to us. For that reason I have defined several more levels of strangers.
There are strangers amongst us:
Take for example the story of Nikki (For The Love Of Dogs), our dog groomer. I’ve known her by name for over twelve years, yet until recently, when she became a 365 friend, I had no idea of who she was. Now we are truly friends.
Our personal networks are filled with strangers:
It’s easy to overlook these strangers by association, often failing to open our eyes in allowing ourselves to reach out to them. I think of the referral that my daughter’s art teacher shared when she introducing me to the fire dancers of “Welcome To Our Neighborhood,” Or Is That? “There’s A Fire In My Pocket!” An experience that I can truly say broadened my understanding of the commitment of real friendship and the importance of community.
And now to my newest discovery, “Strangers in the shadows.”
You may have noticed in my last few entries I have been mentioning a location photo shoot that I am in. Specifically, I am in San Diego, and this is the last day of a three-day lifestyle campaign for a local utility company.
For the last two days of the shoot we have been at the residence of one of the companies marketing employees, who has graciously allowed our production, over thirty people, to descend upon her home and family. That in itself is a gesture worthy of the greatest applause.
We are a very respectful production, but even with every bit of professionalism and respect for the home, I do realize that we are a great disruption to life of a very sweet family of three: Mom, dad and young son.
For two long days we have been here, sunrise to sunset, not one complaint. We’ve moved tables, chairs, and taken over the entire lower floor, and, basically, the home is ours.
And even when the father of the house has to redo an entire document, due to an unfortunate a breaker trips, he never breaks a sweat.
During the whole production, I am aware of his presence, even have a few moments of small talk, but other than that, he is a new person in my life.
Our shoot wraps, and as we clear his home, I notice him standing in the shadows, just under a house light illuminating the side of his garage. Could he be my friend of the day?
I remember briefly telling him about 365 yesterday. He accepted my card with an interested, “I’ll check it out.” But that was it and I left it at that.
Tonight though, I feel a strong prompting to invite him to the project. I refuse my inspiration for a moment.
“I’m cheating,” I tell myself again. Even Tonya, my camera tech and good friend, digs me, “You’re cheating!”
But I think about it for a moment. “Does it really matter how we meet each other?” I ask myself.
“Who makes the rules of association anyway, and who tells us who, or where, or why we should reach out to each other?
Sure Brian (I do approach him, and he does accept to be in 365) has shared world space with me for two days, but that is no reason to discount an opportunity to share a bit of who I am, and opening up to find out about him. Does it?
How many times have any of us, for one reason or another, chosen to withdraw within ourselves in the sight of possible friendships? Think about that for a moment, and consider it a challenge to extend a hand of introduction the next time you feel inspired to do so.
If there is one thing I have learned thus far in 365 is that every time I converse with any of the people I am meeting, not only my understanding, tolerance, and knowledge of my fellow humans evolves, but my own personal esteem along with my appreciation for the world around me grows incrementally.
Richard… Thanks for the Zen Master stuff, but what about Brian.
Well, in a way, I have already been talking of Brian. We’ve taken over his house for forty-eight plus hours, all of which he has been gracious and accommodating. At one point we even drove him out of his office, unintentionally relocation him to the garage to complete his business calls in the peace of silent.
That is itself is a testament to his patience and self control.
As speak with Brian while the production finishes its final wrap out. He shares with me a few aspects of himself that testify to the reasons behind his ability to allow us into his home.
For one thing, Brian is man of balance and respect for others. “My parents taught me early in life the importance of respect for man and the importance of family values.”
The respect for man part, I completely see, it’s obvious in the way he has treated my team and the depth he has allowed us into his home.
What is of even greater impact to me are the words he speaks of when addressing the future. “I have no control over the world, although, what I can control is how I live in it, and how I teach my son. Which is the way my parents taught me.”
The whole picture clicks in, Brian is teaching us all by example, and more importantly, teaching his son (who, by the way, is present for much of the shoot).
Yes, we are an extreme distraction; yes, we are noisy; yes, we are moving stuff.
“I want my son to grow up respectful and with good values,” Brian says.
Brian, keeping your cool is a lesson in itself, one that I am certain your son is taking in and will model in his life.
We speak of other great values: Family First, Loyalty, The Importance of Earning Trust through Honesty and the Selflessness of Helping Others.
Brian speaks of his business (which by the way has been written up in Forbes) with great humility. Yet, when we hit that topic he redirects our conversation back to family. It is obvious that this is a man who, even though he states, “I have no control over the world,” knows exactly where he is going. And at the top of his priorities, the answer is clear: His family.
Brian, my wife has been asking me to interview more Mothers, but today, I am pleased to say, “It is a pleasure to meet a good father.”
Brian, Thank you, and your family, for having us in you home. Your example has made my world a better place.
Happy Holidays, my friend!