I’ll admit, this entry is way past due, and to be completely open about it, I met our new friend last September… only days after completing the one year of daily entries.
Time has just run away, but in all fairness, I’ve been so deep in development of Operation-365 that my bandwidth was too limited to find writing windows. That is different now, as Operation-365 has launched, and my typing fingers are just warming up. Much more to come… I promise.
To pick the story up, we’ll start in the jungles of Hawaii, where I am training a very special group of military photographers (JPAC, I’ve written about them in the past, so you can do a search to read more about who they are and what they do).
For five days, we got ourselves into as many situations as we could, the whole goal… to learn to think on the fly. From jungle to beach, harbor to city to rural Hawaii, we explored, and with every location change we encountered people of the greatest diversity. Hawaii really is a diverse state, and once you look part the tourist traps, it offers a vibrantly captivating culture.
It was the last day of training, and we found ourselves deep inland at the coolest train museum, being offered the privilege to own the place for the day. It was a visual feast of texture and history. Yet all the while we were there, I could not ignore the pull of wanting to visit the home of its proprietor– a humble little construct that resembled a modified military bungalow.
His name, Jim, and all day he graciously opened any door for us. And every time I interacted with him, I could not look past a transcending light of wisdom that shone in his eyes. I knew Jim had something of worth to share.
We found time to chat.
I ask Jim to give us his general council. “Be careful what you ask God for. He begins, “Because God does not give you anything… he will teach it to you. He doesn’t give you patience… he will teach you patience. He doesn’t give you honesty… he will teach you honesty.”
I’m taken a little by his so rapidly exposing his spiritual self, something that so many of us are hesitant to do. But Jim is not evangelical, not judging me or seeking to convert me to any viewpoint, just lovingly sincere in his beliefs. He continues, “Just be careful what you ask for… that’s all you can do. And be careful for who you criticize. You criticize a drunk… two years later you might end up a drunk.”
We’re sitting on his patio. A very humble living space, but in it there is a warmth beyond that of many an ornate palace or house of worship. Jim opens up about his life– Perhaps the key to the feeling that so encapsulates his living quarters. “I’ve benefitted from my lifestyle,” he expresses. “When I was ten years old, my mom deserted me. I came home… nobody there. She sold everything in the house. I ended up in foster homes for ten years. I lived with every single race you can think of. I lived with Japanese, Filipino, Black People, everything you can think of… I’ve lived with them all… and going through the military” (28th Infantry)… “I think that gave me insight.”
I sense that for Jim, life is not about status… or wealth… or paralyzed by any desire for recognition. For him, it’s about accepting and loving his neighbor. Jim is an example to be honored, and in him can be found the true spirit of Aloha. Something that is impossible to ignore when worn by those who embrace its subtle meanings.
Jim sums it up as he talks of his love for Hawaii, “’I’ve lived almost everywhere. This is the most receptive state to ideals and common courtesy. You can tell… when you go into a parking lot and someone says ‘hello.’ I love this state. We call this state a mixing bowl. There is no time to be racist. Your friends are your friends. Doesn’t matter what color they are… what creed. They are your friends.’”
We turn toward the future. With a deep breath Jim begins, “If we stay on the same path as we are, like any big corporation, we are going to undermine ourselves. We’re going to do ourselves in.” he inhales… “if we stay on the same path. That’s the way I see the country right now.”
A second breath, Jim shifts to resolve, “The way we are going to steer ourselves different?” one more breath, “that’s going to take a lot of work. We’re going to have to do a lot of mind changing… people have to change their minds about what they perceive… what they see… how they act. Number one, you can’t take race into consideration… that’s over! We are all people, we all are workers… we all do everything. Religion? I’m not going to knock you for being Jewish, I’m not going to knock someone else for being something else… You know…” pause… “I don’t know what the solution is… I really don’t. I’d like to know what the solution is, but if we stay on the same path we are on right now… we’re done.
Humans are pre-programmed to destruct themselves. That’s the difference between you,” he warmly gestures to me, “and a bear. You go up against a bear, he doesn’t have reasoning. He doesn’t care. He is going to kill you. You have the reasoning to run, or to hide.”
The reasoning to run, or to hide? Jim’s words intrigue me, a great inspiration to one concluding question. What are we running towards; and, are there any things we are hiding from? I can’t say. The question is daunting, and much too diverse to completely examine in the under 1500 words I’m trying to accomplish in today’s entry.
But what the question does pose is a benchmark of sorts. One that each of us can contemplate as we chart our individual courses to whatever lies in front of us.
Wow! I had no clue of where this journal was going to take us today. It’s like that every time I write one of these essays. Words somehow escape me that are far beyond my controlled thoughts. There is something about opening up to those around us that is incredibly awakening and unifying– Something that I will always encourage all of us to do more regularly. And for anything of insight that may have been carried forward through this entry… credit must be given to the true author of this story.
Jim… Thank you for steering us toward the correct path.
Take care my new friend, and please forgive me for the late publishing of this story.