When chit chat over the surfy landscape became sparse our conversation shifted topics to that of an object sitting on the table-top near the three of us; a red fabric covered journal which had been personalized with large black-sharpie colored stars. As the owner of the book, Jared described the journal as an on going personal project that he took with him everywhere. In reaction, Jon boldly asked if we could look through the “project book”. I was a bit taken back by Jons audacious inquiry and would have interjected halt to the idea to relieve Jared of a response but my curiosity kept me quiet.
Jared allowed us to take a closer look at the journal and what I saw next changed me and inspired me. The book was alive with images and words that represented Jared’s current journey in life. Each page was adorned with notes, doodles, intricately cut images from magazines, secret doors and pockets for prized objects. Items that had been abandoned and trashed by their original owners had become treasures in this magical book from the moment they were pasted to one of the pages. This unexpected treat swelled with significance as Jared told the story behind each clipping and photo. Receipts and old clothing tags became momentous as they no longer represented a purchase but a human life. The book was indeed an extension of the man that was standing before us.
In the midst of repeatedly trying to find the right expressions of gratitude to Jared for letting us experience this great book, he respond plainly, “You guys can have it.” Confused, we initially declined his offer as it was too great a gift to give to perfect strangers. Knowing we were puzzled by his donation he explained, “if you guys really appreciate my book as much as you have expressed and aren’t just spewing words to please me, mock me, pass the time or to make me feel good then I would want you to have it” At that, although still feeling undeserving of such a personal treasure, the beautiful book became ours. It was at that moment that Jared became a hero and role model to us as he was as inspiring a person as were the pages of the book he created.