Hello! So sorry for the pause. I'm still taking a picture of a person every day and we're nearing the end of this second 365 Day streak. The blog is a few weeks behind from real-time, but you can follow along daily on Instagram. My username is @missellanea.
Meet the subjects from week 44 of the 365 More People Pictures project.
Day 301 - Chris
This is Chris, my boss/employer. As I typed the words "boss/employer," it made me smile thinking about all of the times we've been out as a group, either professionally or for fun, when Chris humbly introduced himself as our "co-worker." He rarely mentions that he's the owner of a successful business which he started as a kid in his parent's basement and grew into one of the strongest in our entire industry.
"Being in love," Chris answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
When I asked Chris if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, he was hesitant to answer. "More than I can say," Chris stalled. I could tell he was retreating to his mind in search of just the right words to say without breaking any sort of confidence before he finally answered, "grand acts of kindness."
Chris' success has put him in a position to be able to help people, but it's his heart that compels him to do so. The company donates generously to hundreds of local organizations and events. Having lost both parents to cancer, Chris contributes to several of the many organizations dedicated to fighting cancer, or those which help patients, survivors and their families to cope with the avalanche brought by the diagnosis of cancer. I only know of a tiny little fraction of the kindness he's extended to our work family, and what little I know, has been massive and life-changing for many people.
"To employ people," Chris answered, when I asked his life's purpose. This answer was preceded by an explanation that his life's purpose is evolving and that his life is for his family and his family's security, but that everything relates.
After leaving Chris, I continued thinking about his answer. I've always known Chris to be a big-picture guy, and those three small words, "to employ people," have a much greater significance. Chris' life purpose is built on the foundation to care and provide security for his own family, but it's also providing for the lives of hundreds of other people. He doesn't just employ a single one of us. He is, in a sense, employing our entire family. His decisions are based not only on the 125+/- people who come in to work each day, but more like the 500, or so, people in the families of those of us who actually punch the clock. Chris is more like the big-big-picture guy. Again, part of the grand acts of kindness he performs every day. When I consider the giant web, or ripple, of Chris' three small words and how their reach extends even beyond his company's employees and our families, and spreads into the lives of our thousands of customers and their families, the impact and significance becomes enormous. And, in seeing that enormous impact, I can just imagine the enormous pressures he must feel as a result.
One single life. Three small words. Thousands of lives touched.
"Holding my family together, in spite of it being broken 2-times over," Chris answered, when I asked one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success. Of all the achievements Chris could have listed, I realized this was truly his finest, and his most important.
For 20 years, Chris has been teaching me about business, and I've absorbed his drive and determination to be the very best at what we do. On this day, he reminded me why we do it. We want to be the very best at what we do in order to provide for our families, and the families of our customers. Big picture. Big-big-picture.
Thank you, Chris. I don't tell you enough. The tears flow as I'm writing this because the words are sincere, thank you. Thank you for everything you are, and everything you do.
Day 302 - Dan
This is Dan. We met downtown, where he was on break from work.
"Sunshine," Dan said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
When I asked Dan if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, he explained that his job is to be kind. I gathered that Dan is a server or bartender. He explained that he can tell when his customers are having a bad day and he makes it a point to be friendly, and basically, befriend them. He wants people to leave there happier than they arrived.
"Living, life experiences, meeting people, and seeing nature," Dan answered, when I asked his life's purpose.
Something about himself which Dan considers to be a success is that he's been able to meet all of his personal responsibilities and own needs since a young age. Dan has been on his own since high school
Thank you, Dan.
Day 303 - Cameron
This is Cameron. The happiest thing happening in his life right now is that he has a new girlfriend. I loved watching Cameron as he spoke about her with his friend. I could tell from the reaction of both of them that she's a real keeper. She sounded like a great girl, and I'm happy for Cameron that she's in his life and also happy that he recognizes such such a special girl. It's been so cute and touching to see so many men in this project reveal their sensitive side.
Cameron's recent act of kindness is that he gives money and/or food to homeless people.
"To make art and music more available to the masses," Cameron answered, when I asked his life's purpose.
When I asked Cameron something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "that I continue to move up in the field I'm in."
Thank you, Cameron.
Day 304 - Forest
This is Forest. The very first time I saw Forest, a few weeks prior to this, he was juggling outside my favorite little Hollywood District coffee shop, Nectar Cafe. (You've already met several of the Nectar team.) I just had to take his picture back then. I didn't end up with what I was going for, but we talked about someday going out to shoot him juggling. This day, as I was wandering around looking for the person of the day, I looked over and saw Forest doing hand stands! Again, I just had to take his picture so I asked Forest if he would be in the project. Juggling, handstands...I'm not sure what Forest is going to be up to the next time I see him. Stilt-walking? Fire-eating?
The happiest thing happening in Forest's life right now is being in Portland.
"To live until I die," Forest answered, is his life's purpose. Forest explained that every day, we should consider ourself as dead, or dying, and then live life like that. The way he explained it wasn't at all morbid or depressing, but rather freeing and inspiring. Imagine all that you would do, everything you would say, and all that you would experience if it were your last day. Imagine all the worries you would dismiss and not waste a single moment fretting over, if you knew it didn't really matter. Imagine all the love you would share, and receive.
I enjoyed listening to Forest and asked if in addition to his life's purpose, if he also has a personal mission statement. Forest answered, "to be as aware of my life as possible." Forest explained he wasted a lot of time not really being aware of himself, his surroundings or the people around him. He's fully present now, and I guess living like you're dying is one way of instantly grounding yourself in the current moment. After talking with Forest, I really wouldn't be surprised if he were stilt-walking or fire-eating the next time I bump into him. That's Forest, living.
"Procreation," Forest answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success. "I have children who are now good people." Forest told me a story about how his son's teacher once asked how they raised such a great student and person. The teacher wasn't just being flattering. They really wanted to know the parental secret. Forest's son grew up in a home without a television, and no real living-room furniture. They didn't have a couch on which to potato. Instead, Forest filled the home with mats and gym equipment, books and games and everything a kid could ever want. (Except for T.V. and a couch.) The result was a child with an active body and and active mind, and now he's an adult with the same. I wished out loud that I could force myself to make this drastic and unconventional lifestyle change and get rid of both the TV and the couch. I laughed and told Forest that my husband wouldn't go for it, even though it would help us to accomplish so much in life. I loved Forest's answer. "Don't ask him, just do it." I'm going to compromise and will plan on just being able to at least cancel the cable someday. (But it might have to be done Forest's way - not asking husband for permission, just doing it.)
Thank you, Forest. Thank you for your energy.
Day 305 - Cameron
This is Cameron. Two Cameron's in one week and separated by just one Forest! What are the odds?
"I'm surrounded by an abundance of things that cause joy. I'm so lucky to have an abundance of friends and a supportive community, and I'm figuring out how to express love through my entire being," Cameron answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
Cameron's recent act of kindness is that he opened up his home to shelter a stranger who was escaping a bad situation. Cameron has also been on the receiving end of kindness in the process of founding a non-profit organization. Most recently, 2 classes at PSU helped him prepare a business plan for the organization. You can learn more about Cameron's work by checking out: The Oregon Center for Human Rights, and Know Your City.
Cameron's life's purpose is the same as the mission of the Oregon Center for Human Rights, the foundation he's starting: "to shift the narrative about human rights in Oregon, by sharing stories of humanity."
When I asked Cameron something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "resiliency." Cameron forgives and loves again, adding, "...and I smile through it all."
It was such a pleasure meeting you, Cameron. Thank you for being in the project, and for being so kind. Wishing you luck and success to you and your organization.
Day 306 - Deirdre
This is Deirdre. She was peddling down the street when we met.
The happiest thing happening in her life right now is that she built a tiny home and is now living in a stable place. She's enjoying her garden, her home, coziness, and privacy.
Deirdre's recent act of kindness is that she made root beer floats for her hard-working co-workers!
"To love and figure out how to be kind, despite impatience," Deirdre answered, when I asked her life's purpose. I could relate to Deirdre and confessed to her I have the same objective, explaining that I've noticed over the past few years that my well of patience is no longer as deep as when I was younger. This project, in addition to learning photography, has been one of the ways in which I'm seeking to reclaim and expand the patience I once had, which seems to have been damaged or altered by recent years.
"To have created a home for myself," Deirdre answered, when I asked something about herself which she would consider to be a success. Having had zero experience in construction, Deirdre built her home all by herself, with the exception of electrical and pumping, which she needed help with in order to be properly up to code. A tiny house. A huge accomplishment.
Thank you, Deirdre.
Day 307 - Horse
This is Horse. We met near Saturday market, where he was singing and drumming with a group of Natives. As I was about to leave the market, I could hear a faint heartbeat in the distance. I couldn't force myself to leave. I was drawn to the pulse and had to find where it was coming from. I wandered till I found the drum circle and stayed there for a while, just soaking in the sounds and the energy of the culture I left when I moved away from home. For a few moments, I was home.
"Living in my spiritual world," Horse answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
Through his 12-step work, Horse has been on both the receiving and giving end of kindness.
"To teach people the right way," Horse answered, is his life's purpose.
When I asked Horse something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "living life good, and staying clean and sober so I can sing for those who can't, and for the Elders and Grandfathers above."
Thank you, Horse. Stay strong and on the path.
Here's the summary of personal mission statements and the life's purposes of the subjects from this week:
- To employ people.
- Living, life experiences, meeting people, and seeing nature.
- To make art and music more available to the masses.
- To live until I die.
- To be as aware of my life as possible.
- To shift the narrative about human rights in Oregon, by sharing stories of humanity.
- To love and figure out how to be kind, despite impatience.
- To teach people the right way.