I’m not sure who I am trying to convince anymore with my query of coincidence vs. providence, you or me? I am convinced, and you more than likely are bored, but none the less I am amazed everyday how my life unfolds before me.

“Cujo, sick balls!” The most remembered line from “Stand By Me”. That movie was filmed 25 years and not 50 miles from here. As a boy of 12/13 my life mirrored it almost perfectly. Where there were deficiencies, my gang of geeks and hoodlums made up for it by adopting phrases and scenes from the movie as our own. Lines from the movie were parroted and said with glee. Each boy always vying for or trying to pick the most opportune time to re-appropriate a certain line into a new classic and hilarious situation. But mostly, we valued the friendship that we had with each other and feeling that with each other we belonged. Most importantly an apology was signified by “skinning it”.

The feeling I get when I talk to the homeless is that they have that same sort of code, maxims, secret language with each other that identifies one as part of the group. Real names are never used, and the talk is shallow but interested, and usually centers on destinations traveled and humorous or fortunate anecdotes regarding one locale or another. Fear and greed are present, but so are generosity and cooperation. Alliances are easily made…and broken.

I met a dog named Cujo today, and thankfully my balls are still attached. He and his owner were in my path while running…literally. Jackal, the owner, seemed to have the same temperament as his dog, calm and serene, but cautious and capable of bearing his teeth in a fight. I thought him a nice young man.

There is an underpass I use frequently on the bike path where many homeless men and women tend to congregate. It provides them shade and easy access to the corner where they all panhandle for change and dollar bills. They take turns on the corner, and make $20-$200 dollars a day, depending upon luck, a funny sign, and the season of the year. Near Christmas they tend to make more. In the heat of the day, there are the occasional runs for beer or cigarettes.

Today a gentleman put up a sign that read, “I need $5 for my bikini wax”. Of course he was nearly six foot, with a 8 inch beard, and no front teeth. He said if you can make people laugh, they tend to be more generous. I found that comment interesting. It seemed to me that he was saying, that when you seek to give others joy, your joy is magnified, and your needs are met. Hmmm…I think that is what Scaughdt has been advocating this whole time, and I’ve been find out in my experiments.

After drawing the dog that wouldn’t sit still, and I thought people moved a lot, I moved on. I meandered down the river, and found myself next to a grove of trees and tried my hand at the raking sunlight dappling through the trees—and failed. Finally, as the sun set, I found myself perched atop a pedestrian bridge over the mighty Willamette.

The night was nice a cool, and mosquitoes weren’t out. The cool air rose up from the river chilling the day’s heat with lapping and gurgling from below. The trees were indigo, and the sky was a blaze of yellow, orange, and magenta. The sun’s rays poked holes in the shadowed mass of the river bank’s arbor, causing what appeared to be an inferno amongst the pine and deciduous.

I thought to only capture it with graphite in the limited time I had. Soon various passersby gave a casual glance or talked awhile. One man stopped and stood right behind my shoulder trying to guess exactly which tree I was looking at. It was rather fun. About half way through the opus, Todd and Barb came and introduced themselves. They were kind and patient enough to hear me tell the reason for my pilgrimage. In their generosity, they wanted to help me out in many ways, but we settled on a free beer and slice of pizza at their restaurant.

Despite all that you and I hear to the contrary, people are good. People are filled with love. People are lovable. Todd and Barb left the bridge with a “peace” of art. I left the bridge with Peace in my heart and two new friends. Life is good. Be Happy.