"When you see someone in need, no matter the necessity, do your best to help them in any way you can. You never know when, how or in what form God will present himself to you to test you."
-Carlos Soto aka Dad
What's up guys! I'm closing up my 3rd day here in Los Angeles, California for the IHRSA (Fitness Business) convention and I can't wait to go back to Jersey (not for the weather of course), but to implement what I've learned here thus far. It's currently 11:34 pm and I am sitting here trying to figure out how I can convey the message I feel inside me to you through this write-up. I want to talk about human connection. This write-up is not a religious message; this is not a spiritual message. However, it is a human to human message. The power of an act and the beauty of good energy.
This morning started a little later than usual. However, my Operations Manager Chandini and I decided to catch breakfast at the historical "Original Pantry" right in the heart of downtown L.A. As we were standing in line, a panhandler paced back and forth rolling dice on the cement while asking for loose change. He approached me asking for a quarter, and I gave him an honest reply "I don't have any change with me." Immediately, my conscious questioned me, "How come you didn't check your wallet for a buck?". A few minutes later the man received his quarter, ran across the street, hopped on a bus and went about his way. I felt a bit disappointed at my lack of action to help this man get on the bus. Now, you may think this is nothing, but I have personal value system in place with one of them being to always help those in need no matter how big or how small.
As the breakfast line finally got shorter and we approached the entrance door, another panhandler sitting down on a light post calls for my attention. I turn to him, and he begins to talk about my tattoos. First, I noticed his sign which stated "Need money for a tent and food" so I immediately thought this was a quick convo to just ask for loose change. However, the man spoke to me regarding his love for tattoos, how he loved to fall asleep while getting a tattoo because it was soothing to him. He didn't ask for a single penny.
The "Second Chance" Act
After eating our breakfast, I asked the waitress for a "number 4" to go (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, potatoes and OJ). As she was preparing the order, I go outside and tell the gentleman that "I do not have spare change, however, would it be ok for me to buy you breakfast." He looked up at me in almost disbelief, but said that it would be the best thing anyone can do for him right now. I went inside, wrote a personalized message on a piece of paper, I put it in the take-out bag and went outside to give it to him. I kneeled down next to him and told him, "I'm giving you this with love because I'm sure you're probably hungry, but I need you to promise yourself one thing. Whatever happened is in the past, you need to straighten up and move forward". He looked at me and said, "I came to California chasing love. I got depressed and lost everything. I wanted to be a cupcake baker and open up my cupcake shop, but now I'm trying to make it past the day". I looked at him in the eyes and told him it's not too late. "Whatever happened in the past is in the past and what counts is today moving forward, and you know that." He looked back at me, thanked me, and I went about my day towards the Convention Center. However, for that quick 1-minute conversation, we connected. We were present in the moment as two humans with different stories with an intersecting path. I know that I gave him a moment to forget his obstacles and he gave me a second chance and opportunity to make a difference even if it's just for a quick minute. Either way, the energy shared was great.
Later on in the evening as we were walking through the Staples Center plaza, I heard the sound of a drummer jamming on buckets to a Nirvana song. We went to check him out, and I consciously identified this man as another panhandler making ends meet through music and talent. I listened, videotaped and tipped him a couple of bucks for the entertainment. After one of his performances, I approached him to know of him. He tells me his name is Terry and he's been playing the drums since the age of 2. Has played in several bands, marching bands in High School and College. He is not panhandler, but a talented drummer who has a love and passion for street performance all over the US. He's originally from Missouri, but he lived in Paterson, NJ while performing in the NYC subways. (Look up his Instagram - DrumsRTerry) I asked him why he chose to play the drums on buckets in the street as opposed to chasing after big band deals. His response embodies the passion and love everyone should feel in their lives. He said, "This is what I love to do. Anyone can step on a bass drum pedal and make a sound. However, with the bucket, you have to maneuver it, lift it and time it just right to get the sound (he demonstrates). To do this, the bucket has to be part of your body like the leg. You can't just hit the bucket; you have to lift it slightly with your feet and synchronize it perfectly to get the echo and deep sound. The sounds and bucket movements have to be part of you. You have to be one with the beat". He continued on playing, but for those 20 or so minutes that I was hearing him play, I forgot about everything. I forgot about my worries, my personal and professional obstacles, even where I was at. For those 20 minutes, Terry connected with me through not only music, but an amazing story of the pursuit of what you love.
Why am I telling you this story? I'm not boasting about the morning pan handler and how I gave him breakfast. Or how a man can make excellent drum performance on buckets. I'm sharing you this story because we can all make a difference no matter how small. We can all act towards someone in need or simply be there for someone and provide incredible energy that can turn someone's life around. I personally, had a rough day dealing with certain things in my life today. Certainly not as rough as my homeless friend at the pantry, but it wasn't the mentally peaceful day I was hoping for. However, Terry on the drums made me forget about all my issues and worries. He performed so beautifully that it was mesmerizing to the point I felt at peace once again. Did he know this? No, but he did it anyway. Did this solve the problem that was making my day rough? No, but it provided me with a clearer more understanding mind. As I walked away, I felt grateful for the opportunity to experience such a soothing performance and thought of the gentleman at the pantry. I hoped that his day went well and that he at least found peace through something as simple as a breakfast this morning.
You can too...
We can all make a difference no matter how small. Whether that's sparing loose change to a panhandler or simply helping someone cope with something. You have the power to change a mindset and life, all you have to do is take action and do your best to spread good energy. We are all connected through energy, so whatever energy you put out into the universe, it will come back to you. My pantry friend needed breakfast, and I needed a moment to clear my mind, we both received what we needed. You may call this two separate occurrences, but I rather think it was a positive human connection between the three of us. I challenge you to put out good energy and good acts; I promise you the universe will repay you in some form.