I suppose that 1 Person a Day begins over four years ago. I had a sublime moment. I was sitting in a coffee shop on a rainy afternoon scribbling away in a tiny purple notebook when a girl with a black trench coat and drizzle in her hair walked in. She ordered her coffee and sat down across from me. She scrolled through her phone and I continued to scribble away. This went on for some time set to a background of steaming espresso machines and the wafting smell of chai tea before she said, "What are you writing?"
This set in motion one of the best conversations of my entire life. Why was it the best? It was all set around the idea that we had no connection to each others lives, no in-depth knowledge of each other. Which meant we could tell each other whatever we wanted with no repercussions, no strings attached. We could have life long memories of each other, as perfect secret keepers.
She told me about her mother and her attempted suicide and her sister and her passions and hopes and dreams. I told her things I had never told anyone else, burdens that I needed help carrying. She made the world seem lighter. The power of conversation is amazing, the power of interaction, connection, honesty, anonymity, community,-- everything. This is a blog dedicated in honor of those great conversations whether they come in dire moments or great ones. The people who crossed your path at just the right moment.
So why start now? Well, it took me until the fantastic day of Friday, April 8, 2016, to really understand how to channel this passion for the seemingly mundane, for the ordinary people and interactions we take for granted or avoid altogether. I had been floating in a malaise for months and I finally decided to wake up.
I think it's a pretty universal desire to hunger for impact. Everyone wants to be (or at least reveres) great artists, inventors, and leaders. I'm no exception. I'm the musician who wants to write Sgt. Peppers and the novelist who wants to be Nabokov. These goals are overwhelming and obviously, they are things the vast majority of people can't achieve. This sort of realization combined with changes in my life had me depressed and at times physically ill. Nauseous with anxiety and crippled with an existential crisis. I needed to do something. I thought about writing a blog featuring monthly long-form profiles of ordinary people but that didn't seem quite right.
On April 8th I attended TEDxRVA and that's when everything clicked. From the first speaker to the last everyone had an impact, but there were a few moments that really brought it all together for me. The first was a project by John Fryer called Free Ice Water. You can read more about it on his website but the core message is built around conversations, connections and in this case some shared water and a totem of the talk stored in a jar. That was the first piece of the puzzle and you can hearth details in my day one post. The second piece was when the curator of the event, Andy Stefanovich, said something to the effect of, "These aren't extraordinary people these are just ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things." Finally, there was a multitude of speakers to spoke the power of community and engagement--from the story of a borrowed snow shovel, to a woman who put a table into her front yard that became a community center, and a chance encounter with some artists in a bar leading people (myself included) to tearing up.
At some point this all combined with everything else I had been thinking about and it be came this idea. I knew I had to act. (In fact, I bought the domain name in between sessions.) Ultimately, I just want to connect with people and become a better part of the roughly 60 square miles of land called Richmond, VA and this rock called earth. Maybe people will be interested and get something out of it. Maybe it will become a book. Maybe on day 136 I'll meet a lifelong friend. Maybe people will be inspired to do the same thing and enrich their own lives and the lives of people around them (if you do please let me know.) I don't know what will happen. Maybe it will be a disaster. All I know is that I'm committed to meeting people and striving to make life a little bit better, not just for me, but all the people who cross my path through the power of conversation.