My partner and I had a yard sale some months ago and we advertised free coffee to lure people in. It worked and ended up bringing Andrew by. We chatted for just a minute and I passed him my card on his way out. Then a couple of months went by and, seemingly out of the blue, I got a text from him, asking if I wanted to meet for coffee. And, just like that, we became friends. I don't meet many people like Andrew. He comes across as happy-go-lucky and optimistic, but with sincerity. Nobody would ever refer to me as happy-go-lucky and optimistic probably isn't the word that comes to mind when most think of me, although it might actually be a fair descriptor. Anyway, I found Andrew's take on things to be refreshing and thought he might have something to contribute here. Be sure to keep an eye out for him. He will surely brighten your day.
As an aside and simply because I think it is very cool, since recording this interview Andrew has migrated to Alaska for the winter to train dogs for the Iditarod.
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
I am Andrew Edward Smith. I describe myself as a giant ball of fun, introspective thoughts, and rugged sensibilities.
What matters to you? What motivates me?
It seems like relationships matter to me. And what motivates me in life is quite a few things, but I think seeing people at their best or to try to encourage them along the way - that motivates me. And also just doing pretty awesome things that you can dream up. You get this amazing gift to use your dreams to push you through some amazing experiences. So, just seeing that journey come together. Those are two different things, but I kinda mash 'em together, too.
What concerns you? What gives you a heavy heart?
Oh, I was just talking about this today at work on the drive back. It's not so much politics - don't upset me - everyone has a different opinion. It's the way people treat each other and hurt each other emotionally or physically or just the darkness that comes out of human spirit - this other side that people let in and let manipulate them. 'Cause I think they're meant to be really wonderful people. That gives me a heavy heart. I don't know. It's not meant to be that way. I'm very hopeful and optimistic, but it's not supposed to be that way.
What do we mean to each other, individual to individual?
I feel like we are here... your neighbors and the people around you, they help fill in the gaps that you haven't quite got there. For example, I live in this nice apartment and the folks that rent it out to me are a beautiful married couple that have lived a long life and understand love and understand... You know, what that looks like to me is, Wow, I get to learn from them. So, that relationship/friendship... I'm the renter but I've become their friend - dear friend - and I'm very thankful to learn from them what a healthy marriage can look like and what a healthy love looks like. So, I think having your neighbors or your friends - people you meet - there's an opportunity to learn something.
What does it to mean to you to be a part of a community?
Yeah. It means everything. You have to have community. It's where memories are made. It's where deep belly laughs happen. It's hard to be whimsical by yourself. You know, you want to do that with people. So, it's everything. For sure. But, I feel like it's not for everyone. Something happens to people - they get hurt and they don't trust people and their hearts are messed up - and they don't believe or have hope for community. And they get into this other community that has the same beliefs and, therefore, they kind of feed off each other - misery loves company - and may end up at the same spot every week at this funky bar and talk about all their hurts. Or maybe not. I don't know. That's kind of what I've noticed. But, yeah, community's everything. I like to think I've got some great community that I'm cultivating now and want to continue to cultivate. And I'm being a bit more selective and I want people that are gonna make me better around me. But, you know, not like exclusive...
If we aren't doing things the way we are supposed to be - you mentioned that before - we also don't have an example of when we were. So, what are your thoughts on social injustice and what's your role in doing something about it?
What are my thoughts of social injustice? It sucks. It's terrible. It breaks my heart - brings me to tears. But you can't just say it sucks. You can't just go out there and just create a campaign that This Sucks, you have to do it. So, the next question is how do you do it? I think you do it not on such a big... let me think for a second how I put this. I don't think it's a top down mandate. I don't think so. I've seen how those things work; they don't seem to work very long; they fizzle out. I think it's a consistent, long-term investment in loving others; particularly people that are on the fringes of society that are broken-hearted and don't know what right looks like. And you teach it to them gently - you don't force it on 'em - there's an opportunity for people that want to change. And through that kind of selfless love and outreach, I think you can reach people that are apathetic or part of the social injustice that have hard hearts - that don't care, that create this conflict - and maybe reroute the whole thing. And so, perhaps, you do that just by not being afraid of people that are kinda creepy and scare ya and try your best to love 'em. That would be my approach. I don't know any other way. I hope that didn't sound cheesy.
I think a lot of people would share your sentiment, but it seems like our hands are tied. There must be something we can do.
Kill people's pride (laughs), but you can't do that to people; they have to want to naturally change it. I don't know. I think a lot of that fuel does come from pride. And then just the selfish gain. Sometimes it's really wonderful to be in a selfless spirit, but sometimes it's not; sometimes there's really crappy people that you're like, Well, if you're gonna be crappy then I'm gonna put my walls up and be crappy, too. But then you kind of lose the battle. I think having a humble heart kinda guide you day-to-day gives you a deeper perspective on how to handle situations. If you're always through a prideful place, it could look like some of the social injustices of today. Well, they're not residents of America. The law's the law. This is how it is. And there's no room for people with that perspective... you can look at how they really feel... if it was their child being ripped away from their parent, it would be a different thing. I've seen that one recently and it drove me nuts. How can we be so polarizing on this and all agree that this is a really awful thing that is happening? Let's look at it through independent eyes - not through political perspectives - and treat this issue properly with humanity and love. Was it? Didn't seem like it. No. That part drives me nuts - the culture that we're in now seems so one or the other. It's just not like that. And everyone wants an instant fix and a lot of things aren't instantly fixed.
Do you have a sense of purpose?
Yes. Yeah, I do. I just feel like I'm here to love others. Just be present; go on detours when I'm supposed to; to go places I haven't been yet that scare me; and grow; to be who I'm called to be. I think that's looking like a difficult journey at times 'cause I'm not there yet. You know? But I think I'm on track, which is good. Feels good. I have a lot of peace in my life. There's time where you're just a ball of humanity and you're just like, What the heck?! And you don't know how to feel. But deep down, I've got peace and purpose. So that feels pretty good.
What do you want more of in your life?
Making out. Kissing a pretty girl (laughs) that I love. Maybe she'd be my wife. That'd be good. And I want to eat more desserts without putting on weight, but that's not gonna happen. (Laughs) I like sugary desserts. Yeah, I think just a healthy, loving relationship would be awesome for a long time; like a covenant. That would be awesome. But I want to keep it simple. Maybe that's not a simple thing, but I don't want a Lamborghini or anything weird like that. I want to be able to have more time to make more art; that would be great. And just explore that space - that part of me - more often.
Do you have anything else you want to put out there?
Yeah. For the people that are really frustrated with a certain group or idea, there's probably something about that that's fair. And, with that being said, they probably like cheeseburgers, too. And there's something you could probably relate to. And you should do that. And you should meet in the middle somewhere and actually talk to each other. Not yell at each other; not be divisive and crappy to each other. And you should even love that person. Please.
Do you want to ask me anything?
Trying to think if I want a funny question or a serious question. I'm gonna go with a funny question. What's your favorite breakfast cereal?
Oh, wow. I don't eat breakfast cereal.
I have in parts of my life, but I don't at all anymore.
What do you think of Lucky Charms? Do they not make you happy when you look at 'em and eat 'em?
You think they're empty and no nutrition, don't you?
(Laughs) Oh, where's the fun in you, Joshua? I'm having you over for breakfast and we're just gonna eat Lucky Charms. And a plate of bacon, too.