I believe that most people are good; and when given a chance, do good things. I also believe we are all connected, momentary brush encounters with someone one day become lifelong friendships another day, our interactions thru time and space all interconnected. It never ceases to amaze me how when I meet someone new how many people we know in common. Conversely, it never ceases to amaze me how the people in my life are connected with other seemingly unrelated people in my life. Malcolm Gladwell calls those people “connectors”; I believe I am one of those people. At the very least, I have been told that I am. One such occurrence happened recently…
I have been fascinated by the ALS ice bucket challenge, and appreciate how it’s a shining example of the goodness in people as well as a showcase for how connected we are. The videos taking over my Facebook feed all bring a smile to my face. Personally, I dressed up as The Dark Knight before dousing myself with a pot of ice water on my balcony with the beautiful Sausalito backdrop behind me; and I also contributed. From what I understand, to date, over $50M have been raised this year. It all started with one young man’s struggle with the crippling disease, himself a ballplayer like Lou Gehrig. Through the power of his friendships, his connections and social media, it has taken on a life of its own, embodying the connectedness of the people in our society. Incredible.
Seemingly unrelated to the ALS challenge, but every bit related to how connected we truly are, I recently bought a pair of shoes from Bucketfeet. The artwork on each shoe was designed by an artist from somewhere around the world, in my case from Nigeria. His name is Karo. Bucketfeet does a wonderful thing by including with each shoe purchased a bio of the artist who designed the shoe. They have over 2000 artists in their network spread across 35 countries. From their website, “Bucketfeet exists to connect people through art… We believe in the power of art to unite people and break down barriers,…” That’s a beautiful sentiment; and I believe in it wholeheartedly. The shoes themselves are well constructed and rad. They are casual. They are extremely comfortable. They are cool. Even better, they are California cool. And they too have a good story behind them. Their own. And mine.
Years ago in land far, far away, I was a senior at West Lafayette High School in Indiana. One evening, I was walking my dog, a beautiful German Shepherd, and talking with my friends Christen and Robert, whose houses were just four down from each other, who lived a couple streets over from my family. After saying our goodbyes, I remember running away, looking back to wave (and, admittedly trying to look cool, cos Christen was/is stunningly beautiful, but alas), my dog in a full sprint, when all of a sudden I was airborne having tripped on the edge of a lifted concrete slab on the sidewalk that I had not seen, my dog dragging me a good ten feet as I suffered thru a massive scrape and bruise on my right calf. (I still have an ugly scar remaining behind my knee, a reminder of the moment.) As I came to, a small (I think) seven-year-old Indian kid stared at me as my dog stared at him. Christen and Robert ran over to help me up; and, embarrassed, I gingerly walked back home with a nice limp.
I wouldn’t see that little kid again until years later in Chicago, randomly running into him at a party my roommates buddy was throwing. Not sure how we figured out who the other was, but we did; and had a nice time catching up. That was the last time I saw him before connecting with him on Facebook some time ago. His name was Raaja.
Fast forward again many years later, earlier last month, I flew back to Chicago for the wedding of two dear friends Dominique and Justin, who moved to San Francisco a month after I did. I had become friends with the bride six years ago in Chicago; and her husband when they moved here. I was both impressed with and fascinated with their wedding invitations. I would find out they were each individually hand painted by their friend Erin. As it turned out, among her other endeavors, Erin designed artwork for shoes for Bucketfeet.
To add even more coincidence to the story, that little Indian boy Rajaa who saw me make a fool of myself, and whom I briefly befriended years later in Chicago, was the man who founded Bucketfeet along with his business partner Aaron on a trip through Argentina.
Three days ago I posted a picture of my American Bulldog and my shoes onto my Instagram feed. “Tay won’t look at my Bucketfeet shoes before we go on a walk.” The next day I received a response from someone “Thank you for getting it.” After doing some quick digging, I found out the person who responded was in fact the Nigerian artist who designed the shoes! The power of social media blows my mind.
A little Indian kid from West Lafayette, IN… his business partner (who I don’t know) he met in Argentina… two dear friends of mine I met in Chicago and live in San Francisco married back in Chicago, and their artist friend who lives in Chicago… an artist who lives in Lagos, Nigeria… all interconnected thru me and them and life and social media and my Bucketfeet shoes. Small world. Connecting people through art. I like that idea. I like it a lot. I now have three of them. In fact, I am in Boston now; and I wore them on my trip here. They make movies about this kind of stuff, which only makes sense. Cos when I’m not looking, I swear there is a camera filming me at this very moment.
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