Stood to the side of the road, walking stick supporting him. Well kept. Elegant even. Just standing. The traffic constantly passing him by. No slowing down, but then no attempt by him to get them to either.
I slowed down to let him cross. No movement.
I opened the window.
“Would you like a lift?”
“Thankyou.” he said. “Thankyou very much.”
Slowly walking towards the car, he gets in.
“Much appreciated.” he said. “I’m going to 4th street … is that ok?”
“No problem. Which cross street?”
“It doesn’t matter. Anywhere on 4th. I’m going to the bank.”
4th Street is long …. twice as long as the distance I was going to drive to get him there. We pulled away and got back into step with the traffic.
“Good news he said. I have $5,000 in my account that I didn’t know I had. I’m going to check that it’s there. That it’s real. Hope so he said, I’ve already been celebrating.”
I’d already guessed it wasn’t cologne that I was smelling.
“It doesn’t matter. If I have it, maybe I will buy the car I’ve been wanting. Save all this waiting and walking.”
“You could get a nice car for $5,000.”
“Can you? It’s been a long while since they took my last one away. They took it with my license.”
“How long ago?”
“Can’t rightly recall. A long time ago. Be nice to drive again.”
“Oh, wait – here will be just fine.”
“There’s a bank 5 blocks up. No problem to take you there.”
“Oh no no no… thankyou. Here’s just fine.”
I pulled over, and he got out.
I watched him walk away in the opposite direction to the bank.
Who knows where his mind was going to take him next.
One thing was sure. It would be wherever he wanted it to be. A walking stick isn’t going to stop his travels.
I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
But we are not. It’s just that this stuff is hard! A bit like Human Rights actually.
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Unless you track it, this kind of news can scoot past you before you even realize what is going on.
The 2018 winner was just announced.
“The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 was awarded jointly to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
Read All About It.
It’s extraordinary how people contribute to society for the better good, and you think – what can I do to be more like them?
Which reminded me of last year.
.. when the Nobel Peace Prize was won by ICAN. That’s The ‘International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ to you.
The Nobel committee drew specific attention to ICAN’s …
… “work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”
At the time, Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of ICAN thought the announcement of the award was a prank. But it wasn’t … as witnessed by this photograph of Xanthe Hall just a year later.
And who is Xanthe?
Well, apart from a life time activist in the world of Nuclear disarmament, starting as a member of the CND in the UK and now the Co-Director and IPPNW campaigner for nuclear disarmament, she also sits on the board of ICAN Germany.
But that isn’t really the point of this story.
She is also the little sister of my first ever girlfriend as I grew up in a small village just outside of York, England. I haven’t seen or spoken to Xanthe since those teen years, although I knew what she was up to.
It’s truly amazing how life’s trajectories work and though this post is a year late in the coming, I am forever blown away by what people do and achieve. And really, to celebrate winning The Nobel Peace Prize … I mean that is not just a one-off is it? I would be celebrating it every single day! It’s for life!
And when I ask myself ‘what can I do to be like them, I look at Xanthe … to all intents and purposes, growing up in the same village, knowing the same people, going to the same kind of schools …. I was like ‘them’. It’s just that Xanthe focussed her life in that direction. I didn’t.
Because it takes a village …
… an African proverb, because of course, it wasn’t just Xanthe, it was a global team effort … here she is celebrating at the time with one of her partners Sascha Hach – at ICAN, Germany. Reported Here.
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
“I spent the day with my dog.”
“What kind of dog is it?”
“A Boston Terrier.”
“Oh wow, do you have pictures?”
“I did, but I lost my camera and so all my pictures.”
“Oh no, you know these days it’s so easy to keep your photos backed up in the cloud, so you’ll never lose them.”
“I know. I have Google storage and Verizon cloud, but I just never get round to doing it, because it isn’t important.”
“Well maybe you will now.”
“Maybe. But now there’s an opportunity to create a set of new memories.”
The differences in people are revealed by the smallest truths. I live in a world of online back ups, local back ups – duplicated and a system that allows me to recover files lost just a minute ago. Anything less would make me nervous.
There are also those people that never back up because they simply don’t know. Or they have never lost their phone, and with it their only copy of photos, phone numbers and notes.
And then there are people like Alex. He knows all about that. He just doesn’t care. He is not driven by the same triggers that drive me. He lives in the moment. For the moment.
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
Jan knows the UK and lives in Texas now, but the journey from one to the other allowed her to see the rest of the world.
She lived in Mildenhall. I’d heard of it. Used to live near there myself.
She joined the USAF to get trained, qualified and see a world ‘outside of the 50’. She left after just three years because she met and fell in love with the man who became her husband (best-laid plans and all that!). Training and Qualifications put on hold, but still traveled and saw the world. After all – her husband was still in the forces.
Now she is an antique dealer and her husband works at the nearby USAF facility. Well not just the USAF, turns out it is the only joint USAF and NATO training facility in the world.
Her vision was clear, as was her mission and strategy: join the USAF, get trained and qualified. See the world.
But, the tactics to achieve the mission changed. Quickly.
Regardless, mission accomplished. She saw the world and got trained and qualified.
Jan never looked back. In fact, by not holding on to a pre-conceived notion as to how this was all going to work out, she did everything she wanted to do and then some.
Without her husband, she would never have gotten into antiques … which turned out to be her passion. Seeing the world? Sure.
We never quite know what we really want to do. Or be. Do we? At least that’s true for the most of us. So why hang on to some arbitrary plan?
I am reminded of the Japanese term Ikigai … literally a ‘reason for being’. Jan started in a military profession to live, with a personal mission to see the world. Through the good fortune of her USAF career being derailed, she discovered her own ‘Ikigai. Good fortune? Maybe. But really through her own agility.
I worked in San Diego in those days. Everybody around me was promising the world and just doing it what it took. Nobody was asking questions. It was crazy. I held to my truth. But I was the only one that did. But it still all blew up.
That was ten years ago. Now I am here, for me, nothing has changed. I work hard. I reap my rewards.
I love Commercial Banking. It is what I do. All of it.
I find the deals. I work the deals. I close the deals.
I never let go of my core principles.
I didnâ€™t react.
Our truths are our lives. Those truths can do move.
No legacy is so rich as honesty.
â€œI live about 30 minutes North of here. There really isnâ€™t any work up there. My husband is a mechanic from Mexico. He has his own auto repair business and helps me look after the children. I drive down here to work. I like it, the hours are flexible so it makes the family side easier.â€
â€œI have 5 children. MyÂ firstborn is 15, the youngest is 2.Â Itâ€™s good becauseÂ my mom helps, particularly with my eldest. He likes her and she likes him. Itâ€™s a good relationship and they bonded at birthâ€.
She will miss him when he moves away.
â€œThat wonâ€™t happen. He is 15 years old with the mind of a 2 year old. When he was in my womb, the umbilical chord had wrapped around his neck three times and choked him.â€
â€œDo you get help from the authorities, the local government, social services?â€
She looked at me as if I was an alien.
â€¨â€¨â€œNo. There is not much government help on the reservation, but we all help each other.â€
â€œI have no idea who my father is. My mother, sheâ€™s Navajo, told me once that he was Irish â€“ but he has long gone.â€¨â€¨
â€œWe survive in the nation. We always have.â€
My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.
â€¦ strangers to the nations that had already been here for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
â€œI am 76 years old and have been married for 58 of them. She had just turned 17 when we started our lives together.â€
â€œI buy jewelry from the Zuni Indians and sell it to people that appreciate the intricacy and beauty. Their art is so fine it is almost like needlepoint.â€
How do your customers find you?
â€œThey donâ€™t â€¦ I find them. I have been doing it for 40 years. No point in stopping, it is what I love and my wife isnâ€™t waiting at home for me any more.â€
Married 58 years, but his wife is no longer waiting at home for him â€¦ I swallowed.
â€œShe lives three hours away. So, I visit every weekend. Drive there. We have lunch together. I drive back.â€¨â€¨Itâ€™s been a little over two years now. She still recognizes me, which is good, but I am not sure for how much longer.â€
We love life, not because we are used to living but because we are used to loving.
This Chap is led to ask the question by his recent international travel experience, which involved TSAâ€™s â€œRandomâ€ testing, of some sort, both departing and returning. And while the Chap was standing there watching his handbag being swabbed, he began to wonder â€” what are the odds that true â€œRandomâ€ testing would lead to two â€¦
Continue reading “How Random Is Random?”
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