Reverse Panhandling At Its Best
What an exciting week I had as I joined with a team of friends to complete the project, “Do You See What I See?” We began by shooting footage for a short film we are creating to inspire people about creative ways to show love and compassion. Each of the four practices we illustrate in the video are things that Cory actually did: Reverse Panhandling, Quote Posters/Cards, Free Compliments and Free Answers. Our first day of filming began across the street from Whole Foods at a busy intersection where Cory’s good friend, Jeremy, engaged in reverse panhandling. What this involves is holding up a cardboard sign that reads, “Reverse Panhandling”. And when people were brave enough to roll down their window and inquire what that means, Jeremy threw money into their car with a cheery, “Have a nice day!” as he walked away smiling. I was amused when Jeremy first stood on the curb and held up the sign. A yellow butterfly swung down and fluttered briefly in front of his face before flying off across the street. As expected, many people could not let curiosity get the best of them as they either looked down at their phones or straight ahead. But for those who ventured out, they were pleasantly surprised. “I don’t need this!” replied one recipient. “Neither do I!” Jeremy answered jovially. I enjoyed standing off to the side and watching the expressions of confusion, shock and then amusement come over their faces. One guy had the presence of mind to hold up his phone and take a picture of Jeremy as he threw money in the guy’s car. We had already decided that for the last gift, Jeremy would throw 10 $1 bills into the car. I told Jeremy he would know who to approach. Soon a black Land Cruiser pulls up with the windows rolled down and a big hairy dog panting out of the passenger window behind the driver, a young man in his 20’s. Jeremy started peeling off bills one by one and then threw a big wad. The guy was laughing and trying frantically to collect the money. Within seconds the light turned green and our cheery recipient drove off with a huge contagious smile on his face.
Wow! That sure was fun! Despite the fact we were filming, I was reminded that we were actually reverse panhandling. Having completed this portion of the project, we decided to go into Whole Foods to cool off and get something to drink. Mind you this is THE WHOLE FOODS, the one where it all started, a huge bustling store that looked like Grand Central Station on a Tuesday morning. We walked past the coffee bar, and lo and behold there is our reverse panhandling receiver guy! I introduced myself and he in turn told me his name was Connor. “You know getting $8 dollars was great, but it wasn’t the money that was so much fun. It was the whole idea. I love it!” I informed him that Jeremy threw $10 into his car, so he can enjoy hunting for the other $2 that no doubt fell into an obscure space. I also shared with him about Cory and that this was his idea. I talked to him about Cory’s Dream for us to be the change and the profound impact that my son had on my life. Connor was blown away and so very full of life and love. We exchanged contact info, and I friended him on Facebook before we parted ways. Much to my surprise, Connor is on his own spiritual journey where he just began posting about 100 days of meditation, and he was on day 2. This is what he had to say:
Enlightened Meathead day 2/100: Greenbelt calling my name
Today was such an interesting day from the moment I left my house. While sitting on a rock watching the leaves flow by, I got to thinking about how much our life stands to gain from the experiences that were unexpected. I had one of the most impactful conversations today with a woman who had lost her 27-year-old son and had turned an experience that could have crushed so many into something that will bring more authentic positivity into the world. When she told me her story, she expressed gratitude for life over sorrow for loss.
This had a hold of me in my meditation time today. We have no control over the unpredictable situations that will come our way. If we can look past the surface “good” or “bad” of what happens, we can find substantial growth. You’re a new person after each of these experiences. The question is: what kind of different will you be.