From the archives of Project 365
“...have fun, but don’t live recklessly, for yourself or others. Focus on doing good, because what if it is your time and you’re not living up to your potential or doing bad things. You don’t want to go out that way. You want to be remembered for what good you did. Make your mom, dad and people proud.”
It was not the leisurely Sunday I had hoped for, the next day flying out to the East Coast for a rather life-changing interview (an account I may reveal in future essays). So once again, my family was taking a hit, and on that particular day, it was the first time I saw real stress on their faces. I didn’t blame them; after all, it was certainly a failed daddy-daughter week, for I had to miss Halloween night with my girl. In the spirit of transparency, it really was a sad day for me. Still, under it all, we knew I had to finish the commitment I had made.
There I was sitting at my computer preparing for the interview ahead. Eyes focused on the screen, I didn’t even know what time it was. Then a feeling hit me, “Get up! Grab your camera and go outside, NOW!”
Twenty feet from my front door I heard laughter on the horizon. I walked to the corner to scope where it was coming from. It was Aaron, the cool young man I interviewed a few weeks earlier as he walked with his girlfriend Tatiana. We exchanged casual talk and Tatiana said, “I’ve been hoping to run into you, your project is really cool.” I instantly knew she was the reason I’d been pulled from my desk. She was, without hesitation, ready to be part of Sidewalk Ghosts.
Big deal you may say, you ran into an introduction. But I preferred to look at is this way, It was meant to be. When I began this project, it was just an idea. However, at fifty-two days in, and forgive me if I sound a bit spiritual or metaphysical, it had become a calling. There had been too many encounters that connected in some way or another. Either by message or by situation, things like: People who linked to my family, friend related to other friends, or very personal and unspoken questions being answered by a person who without any knowledge of who I was, shined a light upon me. In less than three months I could clearly see stories weave together in telling a tale of hope, strength, and humanity. Every week propelled in an uncharted journey to a deeper unity with the world as a readership grew beyond my expectations. I had no idea where I was going, but I was down for the ride.
So on that stressed-out Sunday, I welcomed the opportunity to interview Tatiana, even if she was standing directly next to a past stranger-now-friend. To me, she was still a stranger, and our meeting was not by chance.
I jumped right in, “What words of council do you want to share with my readers?”
She was very thoughtful. “I want to be careful with what I say,” she prefaced, “this answer seems so obvious, but it needs to be understood. Everyone says it, but I look at it in a different way. People say, ‘live every day like it is your last.’ True, we need to enjoy life. It’s more than that though. It’s really not about partying or having a good time. It’s greater than that. What if today really is your last day? Are you ready? You’re gonna be judged.”
Tatiana wore her faith on her arm. A Tattoo, that written in Hebrew read, What Would Jesus Do?
Tatiana made the above statement, with no malice, no guile, and void of any judgmental hypocrisy. Her tone was youthful, laughing, and kind, yet there was a knowing peace that radiated through her posture. And by her countenance, I could tell she lived by her words. Tatiana was not dressed in religious uniform or overly conservative. Just a young lady; quite normal, quite charming, and quite inspiring as she did her best to simply be a good person. Not just to herself, but to others as well.
She expanded her council, “Have fun but don’t live recklessly, for yourself or others. Focus on doing good, because what if it is your time and you’re not living up to your potential or doing bad things. You don’t want to go out that way. You want to be remembered for what good you did. Make your mom, dad, and people proud.”
Her dreams were pure and noble, go to culinary school, marry, have a family, and open a catering company.
Tatiana had inspired me. Left me healed of my morning stress, as once again, I accepted the notion that I was being led by something above my overly intellectual and very imperfect self. A statement I share in humility and openhearted exposure of my life. I throw it your way by no means of arm twisting or grandstanding. A premise that is up to you to accept, or reject, regarding the reason I was snapped away from my desk at the exact moment she passed by my home. For me, it was real, and my gut tells me I was meant to interview Tatiana that day.
Sunday, a day of spiritual renewal and worship for many, and because of that, perhaps there was hidden meaning in why I was driven to write this entry.
All I can say is this, Tatiana was on the right path and it was refreshing to meet a young woman with her perspective toward living and faith. Again, and fully,I was, and am, inspired.
Tatiana, may all your dreams come true.