Today is Day 77. The date is October 7th. A friend pointed out to me that today was going to be something special because of this same numerical alignment. It helps that her favorite number is 7, but I was unwilling to totally abandon the idea that today would be something truly wondrous. I don't believe in accidents, don't believe in coincidences and today was another great example why. Today, two people who each had something to learn from one another, something huge, while walking down the beach in Charleston. Sam Talbot and I both had a moment of providence today, a moment needed in each of our lives, played out together, as so often happens.
Sam and I were connected by another one of the connections. When we first meet, this friendship is truly as easy as walking into the ocean. We are kindred spirits, the people who walk with the ghosts of their past and still work to move forward to something better. His excitement is palpable, as electric as the air in the storm threatening to come in as we walk. His words are quick, rushed by enthusiasm, Sam is genuinely excited to connect. He loves photography and writes, his language is wonderful and his eye for photos on the beach is wonderful. He even gives me a couple of solid tips. The water, the sand, the surf, this place is his personal paradise. He loves the beach, it is sacred ground to him. Being invited to such a place is an honor, an offering, a moment of incredible power.
What Sam and I talked about is largely very personal, so I won't be telling you the details of it. This is a level of trust I have extended to all of the connections. When I am trusted with the treasures of their lives, the custody of their stories, I take that seriously. I can tell you that Sam opened his heart in a way that most people wouldn't and couldn't. He has a brave soul, it takes courage to seek wisdom and expose our vulnerabilities so we can hope for a better day. I can tell you that circumstances of the previous day made this one meeting seem as though it was meant to happen, exactly as it happened, exactly where and when.
What happened on that long beach walk was two men, two strangers, opening up to one another and talking about real issues. Things that hurt, things that continue to erode us in body and spirit. It is the essence of connecting when two strangers can bond and talk, be completely open and move forward from there. Sam shares his problems with me, I share mine with him. We swap stories. Some of them are amazing, they thrill and fill your chest with excitement and pride. Other stories are full of heartbreak, they pull at the strings of the heart and draw tears from the eyes. They are real emotions, true pain. I'm afraid that I lack the words to fully describe this without going into detail and ruining those perfectly shared treasures.
One thing we talk about is fear and hope. Both of us have things facing us that hold a large amount of fear. We both have decisions to make, and they might hurt, but, as we talk about them, we find that our courage has grown. In two hearts, both torn and a bit damaged, that never met before today, we find courage and remind ourselves that hope is on the same spectrum as fear. It is all about choices really, what we choose to be and how we choose to confront our circumstances, what changes we seek to make. Day after day we are faced with hundreds of decisions. They often seem beyond our control, but that is just an illusion. In reality we can change whatever we want. If I have proven anything with this project, that is it. You can do whatever you want, you just have to choose.
I have thought most of the day about how to best sum up my time with my new friend Sam. I think the best way is to say something simple. Today, two strangers leaned on each other in a moment of providence on a beach in South Carolina. They faced different things and when they left, both of them knew there were things they had to do. Changes they had to make, talks they had to have and lives they had to live.
I cannot wait to see what happens to my friend Sam, how he grows, and to show him the same impact he has had upon me.
Favorite Dinosaur: Velociraptor
Why: They were small, fast and strong, but not huge or imposing. They were like badgers, they knew how to kick ass without having to stand tall to do it.