People First: Benjamin

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.
“Which bank?”
“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

Original Source

People First: Alex

“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.”
A.A. Milne

Original Source

Winner Of The The Nobel Peace Prize

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.”
Harry Truman

Original Source

People: Rebecca

“I live about 30 minutes North of here. There really isn’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.”
“I have 5 children. My firstborn is 15, the youngest is 2. It’s good because my mom helps, particularly with my eldest. He likes her and she likes him. It’s a good relationship and they bonded at birth”.
She will miss him when he moves away.

“That won’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.”
“Do you get help from the authorities, the local government, social services?”
She looked at me as if I was an alien.

“No. There is not much government help on the reservation, but we all help each other.”
“Your father?”
“I have no idea who my father is. My mother, she’s Navajo, told me once that he was Irish – but he has long gone.

“We survive in the nation. We always have.”
My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.

Barack Obama

… strangers to the nations that had already been here for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Original Source

People: ‘JK’

‘JK’ was born in Eastern Texas – ‘where there are trees and orchards’. From there she moved down to Corpus Christie … showed me photographs of the Ocean and Beaches that she could step out to from the restaurant she worked in.
Gorgeous, what took you there from East Texas?
“My boyfriend.”

“I have moved a lot, so when he suggested it, I was hesitant, but he pushed, he had a great opportunity and said that when we moved, we wouldn’t be doing the lifting, moving and driving, we were going to pay someone else to do all that. Nobody had ever said something like that to me before. How could I refuse?”
So great boyfriend, great career opportunity, beautiful new place and town to live in …
.. and yes, she had moved again. Away from the Ocean and Beach. Away from her new home. Leaving behind her new life and was now working in a very different kind of place, in a very different part of Texas.
Turns out she wasn’t even with her boyfriend anymore.
He was everything she could have wanted, but it wasn’t to be.
It was Thanksgiving. She and the children were at her mothers waiting for him to join them. She called. No answer. Eventually, she got word.
He was just 37 when he had his heart attack and died. Thirty Seven. Leaving behind her, her ten year old and his two young teenagers.
She was worried that she might not see his children anymore. They had gone back to ‘their family’, she meanwhile has headed north to her family, the only ‘close’ people she had left in the world. But essentially, she was still alone and all after being shown the possibility of a brighter new future, only to have the rug whipped out from under her. In her mind, she had nothing left.
She met another woman at her new place of work. Instant connection. ‘Two sisters from different misters’. Support immediately given. Unconditionally. They have been inseparable for nearly a year. Just a month ago, they were driving in the city and as she looked out through the car window, the cloud lifted. In her words, it was nothing short of an epiphany. As she looked at the view, truly seeing for the first time she knew at that moment it was time. Time to live again.
She still misses her partner and his children, the ocean, the beach, the life that he had promised and that they had started, but she is getting through it thanks to her ‘BFF’ – a true friend without who she couldn’t have done any of this.
I met her friend. As always, never far away, even at work.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

John F. Kennedy

Original Source

People: Alan and Margaret

Alan from the mid west, Margaret from the East Coast, met, married and started a family in Ohio.
Alan was someone who lived by the rules, so it took ‘Madge’ to show Alan an advert for a job opportunity in California.
Alan wasn’t sure but applied anyway. He got the job and the two of them moved their lives 2,500 miles away.
They had children and grand children and all the while, Alan whilst moving jobs, played by the rules and kept a single career in Banking. The whole family all still live in California
Alan retired and continued into his retirement with the rule book at his side. He didn’t say if he ‘got the gold watch’.
And then he hit 70. Something stopped inside of him. Something started inside of him. The rule book was dispatched to the garbage can.
He is now 72. Their house is sold – as are most of the furnishings. The rest sits in storage. The two of them travel. Everywhere. Together. They just got back from Portugal. She would have stayed there. He needed to come back first. They still might move.
Life is changing around them faster than ever – but just as when they were in their twenties, it’s Madge who is ahead in the thinking. Alan just needs to catch up. I think he will.
“I said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.”
Lou Reed

Original Source