From the archives of Project 365
“Hate doesn’t take you anywhere.”
7:30 pm, November 4, 2011: I was with my family and starting to sweat a little. I thought, “here comes a late-nighter” as I tried to find a new friend to interview. We’d 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 attempting to force a few conversations, not a person was interested.
Submitting to the evening, I readied these words for my wife, “Can you and Colette get to sleep without me tonight, I’m going to have to go on a drive.” They were behind me, yet still, they worried I was going to get myself killed by walking into a stupid situation on my own. The Hawaii hostel experience had become a Radstone household legend and fuel for continued “Richard, watch you’re back!” reminders from wife and daughter. Especially when I hit the streets of night on my own.
So there I was, cruising parking lots as I submitted to my fate. A long night of driving from place to place, I accepted two things that seemed destined to come: Zero sleep and the watch you’re back council.
So I just drove, tired and a little disassociated, when no joking, and within seconds asking an inner prayer for help, crossing right in front of my car passed two people: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics students Matthew and Monica. The voice rang out! “That is them!”
Quickly, I drove to the top of the parking lot, doing my best not to become a stalker by chasing them down in my car. That would have been way creepy. I pulled into a parking spot at the end of a row, grabbed my camera bag, and set afoot course to where they were loading groceries into their car. They caught sight of me. I threw the interview invite and it was instantly apparent that we were all where we were supposed to be at that particular moment. At least that was my take. We’ll see if you agree as you read on.
They called each other kids, so I am taking license to do the same. Yet the words they shared were not that of children, but brave and dedicated young adults who had quite a bit of life experience, especially Matthew. At one point in the interview, Monica even diverted to him to further share his story. We’ll get to that in a second.
Monica was absolutely delightful. I could tell she was the catalyst of laughter between the two of them. They seemed soul matched, lead me to ask if they were significant others? With warm hugs to each other, they responded, “No, just friends.”
There were only two words necessary to fully describe Monica, “Free Spirit.” She cracked me up with her forecast of where she would be in ten years, “I’ll have no house, I’ll have no stability and will be traveling and meeting crazy people. Routine and all that crap annoy me.”
Her words of advice, “Just do it; there is nothing stopping you at all.” I asked, “Sounds like you have a lot of life experience?” I could see in her eyes that she wanted to share some of her life, and I could tell that she had a thing or two to say. But she shifted to a humbler tone and redirected the question to Matthew. There was a very warm connection between these kids that touched me, and I quickly found out why. Matthew stepped right up, “I have no problem sharing my history.”
“I was diagnosed with HIV one year ago.” Monica quieted and kept her eyes focused on Matthew; I could tell she admired him and was inspired by his strength and maturity. It was at that exact moment I knew why we were together: Matthew had council for us all, and his words needed to be published.
He told 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 was intoxicating as I noted his council. It was apparent that he knew what he was talking about and desired to help others with his words. And by the look in Monica’s eyes, I knew why they were friends. He grounded her and she pushed him. These friends were meant to be.
We resumed our group discussion in shifting the subject back to why we met that evening, and after Matthew bore his history, we all seemed to know why.
The topic expanded to religion as Matthew expressed his interest in studying it. A three-way dialogue began and we all agreed there was much good in many religions. Our conclusion, it is about honoring one another, acceptance of a higher power, and striving for self-mastery in doing the right thing. Highlighting the worth of a soul and of its eternal progression. Heavy concepts, but the air was 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 learned a thing or two about social magnetism as Matthew brought up the Gestalt theory. I was vaguely familiar with its application in design but had never really pondered its sociological and psychological applications or its theories of social attraction. Points that Matthew had studied. He posed a question, “Could it have had any influence on our meeting this evening?”
I researched it a little post my meeting with Matthew and Monica. Did not delve too deeply into its depth, only took a quick read of ten or so sources, but it was and is a very fascinating theory. Made me think about my influence on the how and why of my friendships, networks, surroundings, and even the lessons learned within Sidewalk Ghosts.
Both Matthew and Monica left 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 knew is when I first saw the two of them; the voice rang in my head. “It’s them you need to talk to.”
Matthew concluded with this (and from his comments, I could tell he was very spiritual), “I put on my ??? beads today” (Matthew, forgive me, I forgot what they were called), “seems they led me here to share my message.”
Monica, keep smiling and dreaming–Matthew, keep the faith, and kids (even though you are wiser than the aged), thanks for the inspiration!