He says, “People are generally good and change is possible.”
Tonight my wife and I go for an evening drive. I’m slowly sucking her into my daily routine of meeting new people. We end up stopping at Warner Center Park, just a couple of miles from our home.
A little bit about Warner Center Park, other than its three claims to fame: Summer outdoor concerts, night outdoor movies, and a killer 4th of July fireworks show. Its hidden secret? The diversity of those who frequent its fields. Making it a local melting pot of cultures. From India to Europe, you can find it all at Warner.
The evening is cool and calm, youth soccer to the left of us, a mother with her son taking private Karate lessons to the right, and straight ahead, two young men sitting in the grass. At a distance, it looks as if they are holding a giant yellow garden hose in their laps. What’s up with that? We looked curiously at each other.
Then the Sherlock Holmes comes out in us as we set a path for a closer view. As we walk towards our contacts to be, the hose moves on its own?! Now we’re intrigued. Perhaps they are just messing with people. Trying to get a rise out of anyone thinking they’re handling a huge cat-eating snake. On park grounds mind you. Fun! A practical joke? Maybe? But whatever they are holding, we’re in!
100 feet to target, 50 feet to target, 10 feet to target, CHOW! It is a snake! 30-pounds of Burmese python, to be accurate. We’re nervous, but quickly overcome any fear in wanting to know more? I pull out my 365 business card, walk up to these guys, plus snake, and reach my hand out to introduce my wife and myself.
These guys are really cool. Turns out they go to Canoga High School just up the street, my wife’s Alma Mater. Won’t date my sweetheart, but I can say I’m pretty sure that non of her teachers are still there.
One thing this project is teaching me fast, there are many young men and women with great manners and intelligence…all lining up to lead the future. Tonight is no exception to this discovery in meeting today’s strangers-now-friends, Izzy and Jerahmia.
We are wholly impressed with the way these two young men express themselves. Izzy shares a comment that deeply impacts me. To set it up, He recently relocated to the USA from Turkey, has spent time schooling in South Africa, and by what he shares with us, has seen a thing or two of how fellowman can treat fellowman. Very impressive for a 17-year-old. What he says is this; a very simple statement, but one with great depth, “The World is the World.”
I ask him what he means? He responds by telling me that people are generally good and change is possible. It just takes time, and that we have to do the work and be patient.
OK, I’m 50 (now you know), I’ve seen and experienced a lot of things since I was seventeen. But I’m telling you, at 17 I would have never made a statement like Izzy’s.
My wife kicks in and asks Jarahmai a question or two. He chimes into the conversation with similar depth. Talks about his Greek heritage and upbringing. I can see why these two kids hang out. They are ahead in their maturity, and it shows. Glad I met them. Parents be proud!
We talk of goals. Turns out that both share an entrepreneurial perspective. Izzy sees the business opportunity in breeding snakes. I did a little research and he is absolutely correct. There is a gigantic market that spends premium dollars for exotic reptiles.
Jerahmia speaks of following in his father’s footsteps, wanting to build an electrical business. Smart kid—we all know how much we pay our electricians.
As we all chat, here is what catches my eye. Something that is becoming a through-line with many of the people I have interviewed thus far. These two youthful gents talk not only of earnings, but of equal importance, the perspective of doing something you enjoy. I’m only 12 days into 365. We’ll see if this theme keeps constant.
We finish with a few witty lines of conversation. Here are my two favorites:
One: Izzy supports the ban on domestically owned Pythons in Florida. They grow huge in that climate. Untrained they eat dogs, cats and can harm children. He goes on to share, on the other hand, they should allow domestic Pythons in New York City and San Francisco. I laugh loudly, thinking he is bagging on the cities. Well, it turns out that for New Yorkers and San Franciscans, your safe. The cold climate limits their growth.
Two: I had no idea that a 17-year-old could leg press 1000 pounds, Jerahmia can! Considering myself somewhat fit, I decide to ask more weight lifting questions, thinking I can get a pointer or two. I stop at hearing he can chest fly 305. Lifters, humble up, you know how strong this kid is. I’m fine with sticking with my twenty-five-pounders.
Oh Yeah! Forgot to introduce you to the Python, “Say hi to Goliath.”
I’m off to hibernate now.