Hello! This is week 45 of the 365 More People Pictures Project.
Day 308 - Tamera
This is Tamera. We met at the park. I spotted her sitting at a picnic table, reading a book.
The happiest thing happening in Tamera's life right now is that she recently learned she and her family will be staying in Portland. They were facing the possibility of a transfer, but are happy to be staying here in the Northwest.
When I asked Tamera if she's recently performed an act of kindness, or if she's been on the receiving end of kindness, she told me about her tight-knit group of neighbors who are constantly performing kind acts for one another. It sounds like in Tamera's neighborhood, one day you'll find yourself on the giving end of kindness, but the next day, you will be on the receiving end of your neighbor's kindness. They provide child care for each other, prepare and deliver meals to each other when one might be in need of a little extra help, and most of all, they provide friendship and a true sense of community for one another. It reminds me of how we lived decades ago.
"To be as kind and loving as possible to the people around me, and to make the world a better place wherever I am," Tamera answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement. Tamera added that her life's purpose is to care for her daughter.
Thank you, Tamera.
Day 309 - Angie
This is Angie.
The happiest thing happening in her life is that she's settling into her new house.
Angie's recent act of kindness is that she donated to a group of kids who were fundraising.
"To make people laugh," Angie answered, when I asked her life's purpose.
When I asked Angie something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she answered that it was that she was able to overcome financial burdens. Congratulations!
Thank you, Angie.
Day 310 - Marie
This is Marie. We met at the bus stop.
"I'm just learning to be happier and more positive," Marie answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.
Marie's recent act of kindness is that she helped one of her customers pay the difference when they came up short on their purchase. In general, Marie said that she always tries to be friendly and helpful at her job and wants to help make others happy.
"Trying to help others and help the planet," Marie answered, when I asked her life's purpose.
Something about herself which she would consider to be a success is that she's done well at her first job. She's worked there for over a year and is pleased with her job stability.
Thank you, Marie.
Day 311 - Trevor and Noah
These are two complete strangers, hugging. I wish that every day in this project could have been like this one. I pushed myself a little harder and just happened to meet two awesome guys who were willing to push themselves too.
This is Trevor (right) and Noah (left). We met outside Sam's Billiards. I approached and asked which one of them would let me take their picture for the project. They were both up for it! Hearing they were both up for it, I knew this was going to be my chance to try something I've been dreaming about. I explained to the pair that I've been wanting to do something with strangers interacting because I want others to experience the same joy and full heart this project has provided to me. Again, they were up for it!
I asked the two if they would be willing to hug. Obviously...they were up for it! What I love most about this, is that the hug was solid and genuine.
The two let go of any fears and apprehension, and hugged a stranger with the love one would have hugged their brother they hadn't seen in a while. I felt the love and positive energy just being an observer of this beautiful interaction. This was one of the best days in the entire two-year project.
Noah was just coming off the receiving end of 2.5 months of kindness. He had been touring with his band and it's the kindness of others which propels bands from one town to the next.
"The fact that I'm always trying to succeed," Noah answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
The happiest thing happening in Trevor's life at the time, was that he was on vacation with his girlfriend...and deciding to play pool at a random bar. (Which is where we met, and were now all hugging strangers.)
"Eat, sleep, fuck, and to be happy and to help everyone else around me to succeed," Trevor answered, when I asked his life's purpose. "Hey, I'm an animal," he explained. (Yes, a sweet, adorable, loving little animal.)
Thank you, Noah and Trevor. Thank you for your kindness in allowing me to take your picture, and for being brave enough and loving enough, to hug a complete stranger. You two are awesome.
Day 312 - Al
This is Al.
The happiest thing happening in his life is his new girlfriend.
Al's recent act of kindness is that he helped pull a guy's truck out of the sand where he had become stuck.
"Surfing," Al answered, when I asked his life's purpose.
"I'm a jack of all trades. I can learn just about anything, fast," Al answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Al was such an easy-going person. Throughout this project, I've often been so pressured by time (trying to get a picture before a subject's bus arrives) that I've sacrificed quality about 98% of the time. Given the nature of this project and the way in which I've approached it, I've been forgiving of myself. However, if you continue to do something incorrectly, day after day, month after month, you will train yourself in bad habits and any progress will be slow and in tiny little increments. (Exactly how it's been for me.)
It's like I continue to take "bad" pictures, knowing they're bad! Sometimes they're accidentally bad, but most times I've simply not taken the time to make them better. I already feel awkward and weird asking a person for their picture. It feels like people would get annoyed or upset if I then take them over to a spot where the light or background would be better. They're already taking time out of their day for me...it feels like I'd really be pushing my luck to then ask them to go to a different location. (Not to mention, I might really creep them out!) However, I could see the light was beautiful in this little corridor in-between two buildings. I could see it was there, but because I don't practice it enough, I was having a hard time finding the sweet spot. Al was so patient with me as we moved a few steps up, a few steps back, a few steps left, then a few steps right. I realize that had I approached this project with the same determination I had that day, the results would have been better. Al was patient and kind enough to let me take my time so that I could try a little harder than usual.
Thank you, Al.
Day 313 - Chris
This is Chris. We met at the bus stop.
The blog is behind from real-time and things have changed from when Chris and I met. I'll share the answers he gave at the time, and then the update we shared via e-mail.
"A fresh start - I just moved to Portland," Chris answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now. Chris had just come from a job interview when we met, and he was on his way back to his hotel.
I asked Chris his life's purpose and he answered, "to live as genuinely as possible and to publish a book that resonates with people." Chris is a writer and you can learn more about his work at www.ahliterature.org
"I got here on my own," Chris answered, when I asked something about himself which he considers to be a success. Chris packed up and moved to Portland, determined to make a new life here.
After meeting Chris, he immediately emailed me, explaining that he felt like a deer-in-the-headlights when we met, and that he would be more comfortable answering the questions in writing so that he could give them more thought and consideration. I completely understand this. If someone were to approach me on the street and ask me these questions, I would babble non-sensibly. I would also much rather prefer to write the answers than give a verbal in-person interview.
I find written communication to be preferred over the spoken word. I feel awful about this trait. It's nice knowing others have this preference as well. It's not that I dislike talking with people. I love it, actually. It's just that communication is a puzzle for me. Each word is its special little piece of the puzzle and when you assemble them correctly, a beautiful picture is revealed. When speaking with another person, it's like each word, or puzzle piece, has a helium balloon attached to it. Trying to arrange the words in proper order to convey a thought is like trying to grasp at the words as they're floating away. Once caught, the words continue to be mischievous and disobedient. When speaking, I continually arrange the words incorrectly. Half of the words, puzzle pieces, still manage to escape my grasp and are lifted away by their little helium-filled balloon, never to return to my mind or my mouth in time to be properly aligned with the other words. With all of those missing words, puzzle pieces, my thoughts, the picture, can never be delivered the way in which I intended. And as I age, I've discovered that the puzzle pieces are now escaping my capture in the the written word as well. It is one of my biggest fears, turning into reality, that words will continue to float away from me forever. With all those missing words, those missing pieces, I will never be able to reveal the beautiful picture.
Chris did get the job here in Portland but finding an affordable place to live proved to be impossible. Chris returned home. So much has happened since we met. Time passed and so so did his mood, or at least the spirit he was feeling when we met. Chris no longer felt like re-visiting the questions in order to provide written answers. I'm so sad Portland was unable to provide for Chris. He was so happy to be here. He found a job immediately and loved our city, but we failed at providing Chris with a place to call home.
I'm just really bummed about this. I enjoyed meeting Chris and was hoping to bump into him again in the future. It's been over 20 years since I've been on the hunt for an apartment or living situation in Portland, and now I'm also experiencing this challenge firsthand. It's now extremely difficult to find an affordable place to live here.
Chris, wishing you the very best of luck and success, and the completion of your book. It was a pleasure meeting you. Thank you.
Day 314 - Eddie
This is Eddie. He's another one of the most soft-spoken, sweetest people in this project. His style screams to be noticed, but his calm and gentle nature is more of a whisper.
The happiest thing happening in Eddie's life right now is his work with bridle leather. Eddie hand-crafts leather goods. I'm determined to find the shop in which he sells some of this things, and then I'll report back to you.
Eddie's recent act of kindness is that he returned someone's wallet. It was a bit of a chase, but he was able to return the wallet to it's rightful owner.
"I'm a nihilist. I don't think there there is a purpose in life," Eddie answered, when I asked his life's purpose. Eddie went on to explain instead, "I'm an artist. I challenge myself to do different things, or to craft in a different way."
I've observed a beautiful irony in my friends and acquaintances who identify as being nihilists. I've met a few people who are operating under the thought or philosophy that life is purpose-less, but those who I've met who live this operating system, are living some of the most purposeful, meaningful, beautiful lives of anyone I know. They live lives filled with kindness, generosity, and determination. Most of the nihilists I've met have been artists/creatives, born with gifts and talent that even the most dedicated person can never nurture from themselves. They have been visionaries, and more importantly, they accomplish as much as they dream.
To me, it feels like someone who identifies with nihilism may feel like there isn't really a purpose to life, or in life, but the funny thing is, they're often living such a beautiful and purposeful life that it practically contradicts this philosophy. It's as though their life's purpose is so hard-wired and so innate, they're not wandering aimlessly (like some of us) in search of their purpose in life, or of life's purpose for them. They are simply living it.
"My kindness," Eddie answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success. Eddie experienced a pretty traumatic situation just a few days prior to this in which he was caught in the crossfire of gang violence. He was actually standing in the middle of gunfire as two gangs were shooting at each other. Eddie is determined not to let this experience cloud his thoughts or feelings about people. He's forgiving. He will not allow himself to be led down a path and into the territory of discrimination or racism because of the violent acts of two small groups of people. Eddie will not be hardened by this. Instead, he is pretty much one of the most loving and accepting people I've met.
Thank you, Eddie. You are amazing.
Here's a summary of the life's purposes and personal mission statements of the subjects from this week:
- To be as kind and loving as possible to the people around me, and to make the world a better place wherever I am.
- To make people laugh.
- Trying to help others and help the planet.
- I'm always trying to succeed.
- Eat, sleep, fuck, and to be happy and to help everyone else around me to succeed.
- To live as genuinely as possible and to publish a book that resonates with people.
- I'm a nihilist. I don't think there there is a purpose in life.
Thank you for reading along and thank you to every subject in this project.