SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 123: “To Walk With Them As The Same”

Dinner is in one hour and I decide to take a short evening stroll. Just need a little time of introspection to flush out my head. It’s been a buried business day, and albeit a positive one, I welcome a brief escape.

Well, I call it a stroll, but you and I both know, it’s really a thirty-pound of photo gear on shoulder world exploration. That’s just the way life is with my 365 commitment, and thank you for being with me on this amazing experience.

Today marks over four months for 365, and through it, we have witnessed the birth of a global community. I often say that I have no idea of were 365 is taking us. But one thing is apparent; it is helping many of us to reach out to the world.

I’ve been sincerely reading your remarks and have checked out your blogs. Your comments have been inspired and we now have over 1300 registered followers. Not bad for a little rag-tag blog.

365 is truly becoming more than a personal travel log, it has grown to be about people beyond us. Many new friends have joined us, and, in meeting them; it’s been constantly humbling the way they are driving us forward.

A new vocabulary of life’s perspectives is emerging, transparent to us all. With this, another global statement must be noted, “The world is filled with great people.”

And in talking of greatness, I am not focusing on media giants, wealth or any other form of power. The greatness I am referring to is the willingness of so many to look beyond themselves in honoring each other. A willingness that I am grateful to be part of every day as I reach out to my neighbor’s  of planet earth.

May we all continue to unite in “humanalution” (there’s that word I invented again).

With all this said, it is appropriate that I run into Justin, a very cool cat who is caretaking at Cloud 9 Hookah Lounge.

The place is only footsteps from my front door; yet, I’ve always been intimidated to walk in. Not because I don’t smoke, but embarrassingly, I have been afraid of a preconceived cultural divide. Thinking that whoever is in there… they will not understand who I am.

I am proven way off base, when I meet Justin, as he is setting a sidewalk sign. In approaching him, I feel of a peace he emits. And soon you will join me in understanding why.

“Be strong, not physically, but mentally,” Justin’s first advice for us.

He talks with optimism, all the while, directing it away from himself, “Provide yourself with more than you think you can do. Whatever it is, you can achieve it. And don’t stop dreaming, because dreams are the keys to the world.”

“Dreams are the keys to the world.” Not passion, not desire, not plans, not even education… Just dreams.

Justin and I talk about dreams for a while. In the end we conclude, that dreams are greater than passion, and are an important connection in defining our purpose on this planet. Thus, purpose, becomes the purest form of human motivation, for without it, how can we truly grow to find our fullest potential?

I’m writing a paper on purpose, and will share it with you in the future.

And for the sake of introducing the concept, Justin is our man of the hour.

On his arm is this tattoo, a self-written mission for life. It reads, “To walk with them as the same, thy here to take their pain, help them when they can not change.”

How eloquently this self-created, and very poetic verse, relates to the literal DNA of Justin’s love for the world around him.

“In high school, my career councilor told me that my tests showed that I had a propensity towards being a teacher, pastor or someone sharing a message.”

“To walk with them as the same, thy here to take their pain, help them when they can not change.” Purpose? I think so!

Here is the kind of stuff Justin does. He talks of pay it forward. But for him it is more than a concept… it’s a call to action. “Not so long ago a friend and I go into a Starbucks. We give $100 to the guy at the counter and asked him to use it to cover all the next customers until it is gone. We asked him to do it with one condition, ask everyone who receives the paid for drink to pass on a good deed.”

A monumental gesture from an (I’m sure) under funded twenty-two year old. His story blows me away. Like I said, “The world is filled with great people.”

“To walk with them as the same, thy here to take their pain, help them when they can not change…” Please go on?

Justin is a humble guy, he credits his career ambitions to words of his father, “My dad once told me that I have a gift; I did not understand what he was talking about at the time. But now I think I’m starting to.”

Justin is not boastful, self-promoting or egotistical at all in opening up with me, “I’ve always been a good listener and somehow I calm people.”

Calm people– “To walk with them as the same, thy here to take their pain, help them when they can not change.

Justin’s goal, “I’m about to start my training as a Hypnotherapist, I start school next month and will be practicing in six months. I want to use the gifts that have been given to me to help others. I hope I’ve found a way to do it.”

In speaking about the future.

“I want things get better politically, the government is going crazy.”

And on a more personal note, “Health wise, everyone in on drugs! I’m scared for the future.”

At first, I think he is using everyone in on drugs as symbolism for the way the world is running itself. On Drugs, meaning, Out of Control.

That is not what Justin is talking about; he is speaking of the factual use of drugs.

“Too many of my friends have fallen to hard drugs like XTC and Cocaine. I’ve seen it ruin their lives.”

“I remember learning this in high school, stay away from drugs, being told that Marijuana is a gateway drug. And now I fully understand, seeing how it is affecting my friends.

I even had to end my relationship with my girlfriend. She changed for the worst after getting into smoking Marijuana. She became an angry person, not the person who I knew before her addiction.”

Drug addiction has become quite a through-line over the last week… Strange how the web of 365 is forming?

All I can say is I’m glad I’m hanging in the Hookah. Still don’t smoke, but maybe I’ll stop by one and a while for a soft drink and a chat.

“Justin, I’m sure we will not be strangers.”

7 comments

  1. I’m amazed at both your confidence in approaching people for this project, and their positive reactions. It sounds as though your friendly outlook is reflecting back on you.

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  2. You have such a great eye. Every picture you take of someone is beautiful, every story is sublime. I definitely agree with him that too many are on drugs. It is a form of escape for them but their problems are still there. I don’t think marijuana is necessarily a gateway drug but it can and does cause a lot of problems for people.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this! Justin is a very inspirational person and I totally relate to the things he had to say! I am studying to be a professional counselor and my last class was on substance abuse and addiction so I can really appreciate his take on drugs and the way they ruin lives. I will definitely have to look this place up when I return to the States. Thank you for this!

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  4. What an amazing guy! He looks so wise if you know what I mean. Isn’t it strange that we can meet the most amazing people, as you say, on our doorstep? I love your posts. On another matter, can you just clear this up for me….are you allowed to smoke in Hookah Bars in the US? I thought it was banned every where!!!

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