A couple of days ago when I was up early responding to Shug's nature call, I smiled and said "hello" to the unkempt, balding man who was rummaging through the recycle bins beside the apartment building. He deliberately and repeatedly brushed the few strands of stringy hair from his wrinkled and ruddy face. Repositioning the broken glasses on his nose, he smiled, exposing the rotten teeth, the two remaining top ones. "I like that dog." I nodded. "I like her, too." He retrieved another two cans and placed them in his rusty grocery cart, which was overflowing with loot. "I get up early. If I don't the others get them first. But if they get them before me, I just go to another street." Shug was doing what she does best, sniffing and lollygagging. "Hurry up, girl," I said. "She's not on no watch," he said. "You're right about that." The entire time we were talking, music from an 80s boom box that sat in the child's seat of the grocery cart was playing, and I started humming along to John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." "See you later," I said to the man when I mistakenly thought that Shug was done with her inspection of the sidewalk. He winked at Shug and said, "Look after me, Dog. When you see those two women going through these cans, tell them to leave me some." "Have a good day," I said. The cart had a sticky wheel, and he struggled to turn it around. While Shug continued to sniff the ground, searching for the perfect spot, I watched the man limp down the street, using the worn cart as a walker.
At a birthday lunch for my friend Forrest, founder of http://www.loveangeles.com/, I ran into Cynthia, the first person whom I met in L.A. upon my arrival here. Cynthia is a documentary filmmaker who made a wonderful film about her mother's hoarding disorder. "My Mother's Garden" (http://www.mymothersgardenmovie.com/) is raw and personal and features an attempt by Cynthia to bring her family together to face their mother's illness. After further talks with Cynthia, I realized that she had started several non-profits to help disadvantaged young kids get a chance at a better life. Both Forrest and Cynthia are in their late 20s, and both of them are making big differences in the world. They aren't sitting around waiting for the world to change. They are creating the changes, making them happen.
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to figure out how to best use my talents to make positive changes in the world. Trying to decide how I can best marry my livelihood and my passion has occupied my days. In a sense, I guess that I've been sitting around waiting on the world to change, so I will know what changes to make. Now, though, I'm no longer waiting. And the first thing that I've committed to do is to continue to speak the truth about the injustices and social ills of the world and to continue to act as a voice for those who can't speak for themselves.