It is beyond me how almost three months have passed since starting 365. Time has flown by and I’ve lost mental count of the many experiences it has brought to me. I have met amazing people, all of whom have shared knowledge, wisdom and words that have hopefully edified us all.
For almost ninety days I’ve been a study of humanity. Not for the purpose of self-gain, to impress ego or for the pursuit of commercialism. But for one pure intent: To better understand my fellow man, and to hopefully unite us all in some way. I know, a grand call, but one none-the-less that impassions me.
This project has been a monumental offshoot to the work I am normally commissioned to do, and I am loving every sleep-deprived minute of it. The journey is still beginning, we’re only twenty five percent there, nine more months to go. Stay with me, things are just warming up.
With the December chill comes the approach of a new year. 2012 is right around the corner, and as we get closer to January One, I am noticing a shift in the general perspective of those I approach. The extremes are strengthening, acceptances are getting warmer and rejections are becoming more frequent.
My guess, as most of us do at years end, many are starting to reevaluate their lives, and in doing so, emotions become highly external or at least more open to exposure.
Last nights grifting scam and the yelling wife were particularly difficult situations, and, I have to admit, my 365 knees are a little weak today. I’ve driven aimlessly for almost two hours, my body is physically uptight and my mind is blurred. In essence, I’m a little lost, maybe even a touch apprehensive as to where to travel.
Two hours behind the wheel in circling a ten-mile route. I can wander no more, and with a Starbuck’s on the horizon, the time to stop for a decaf pick-me-up has come.
There is nothing better than a hot drink on a cold night to regenerate the heart and refresh the spirit. Luck is with me in finding a parking spot directly in front of the store. And as I pull in, I see a group of three men sitting outside, in the cold, enjoying conversation and hot beverage. Perhaps they will be interested in 365.
Even though I am fully vested in the project, and have a list of incredibly positive experiences, I sometimes do feel like a tremendous intruder in walking up to complete strangers, “Hi, my name is…”
So tonight, when I am met, at first, with silent faces, not “yes”s, but not “no”s, I wonder if I have stepped to aggressively into an established conversation. I let my introduction hang for a second and sense an acceptance to my presence.
With the wall down and no expectations for an interview, I figure I can at least share the findings of past interviews, a few of the comments I have received from my 365 friends and the impact they have all had on my life.
“How long will it take?” They ask. It’s cold and I respect the question. “Ten maybe fifteen minutes,” I respond.
“Sounds interesting. Sure. Why not.” They are in.
I do my best to respect their time, and perhaps their desire to find warmer grounds. I jump right in, taking a very quick series of candid photos.
“Three minutes down, seven minutes to go,” I tell myself. Got to pat myself on the back, I’m getting crazy fast in figuring out light and composition. That in itself has been a daunting task in 365.
Photos down, I sit to chat with my new friends, Leroy, his son Joe, and his nephew Ryan. All are engaged in the project, but at first struggle for words.
Joe goes first, “Where will I be in five years?” Huge pause, “All I can say is the future won’t be like today.”
Ryan contributes, “I’m with him, things are tough right now.”
We talk for a while, sharing life perspectives, and as we do, the clock stops counting. Somehow we find ourselves all on the same page. The concerns for time have passed by.
This in itself is a confirmer to me that, no matter who steps up to 365, the scale of the project is far reaching.
My fears from the following evening have passed and here I am again, associating with more great people. I am affirmed in what 365 has consistently revealed to me. That is, most are in quest for the same thing: A better world.
What is intriguing about our chat, even though we are talking of difficulties, is the positive attitude to the topics we have embraced.
Leroy, who until this moment has been intently listening, speaks up, “I take solace in hope for the future. It is going to be good. I know that. There is always hope, and God made us for a purpose. I’m sure it is going to get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.”
It is apparent that Leroy is a good man, a powerful father and uncle. It is a really cool thing to stumble upon a father who is involved enough to take time to chill with his adult son and nephew. The impression they leave with me is impactful. Family first, and from there things will work out.
Must be thirty minutes into our time and now I am starting to be influenced by the bite of the cold air. Time to draw our interview to a close.
I ask, “Is there anything else you would like to share with my audience.”
Joe steps to the stage, “I’m a writer, if there is one thing I’ve learned, that is to take value in more than external validation. The real value is in the experience of what you are doing. Always focus on the end game, do what you want and not to seek validation.”
We exchange our sign offs.
To Quote Leroy, “Tell them you met a Motley Crew.”