This weekend I witnessed how one person’s seemingly small and unusual gesture made a significant impact in another person’s life without them even knowing each other.  Let me explain!

Have you ever seen a movie that completely surprised you?  Not as in some creepy thing jumping out and scaring you to death but in a way that you think the movie is about one topic and then you realize there is a bigger message.  The Secret Mall Apartment was one of those films. I was truly privileged to see this movie this weekend brought to OKC by the deadCenter film festival.

The story on the surface is about a group of artists that set out to see how long they could live in a mall after losing their beloved home due to re-gentrification of the area.  What started as a one week challenge ended as a four year journey after Michael discovered a 750 sq ft space inside the mall.  It literally was just a concrete cinder-block space with no electricity, no plumbing and no windows. Next thing you know they decided to turn this into an apartment. While that endeavor was fascinating by itself as well as truly comical, it turns out this space had a deeper purpose of community, planning and principles. I won’t go into the details about the actual apartment but want to share with you one of the groups higher missions which personified their very plight that started the mall journey.  Their art provided opportunities for others to take control when due to other circumstances they had little control therefore creating comfort and often joy.

Michael Townsend, the lead man in the endeavor of creating a mall apartment, is a tape artist (tape art is literally using painters tape and making pictures and murals on walls that can then be removed).  He and his team had many projects that were inspiring but one really hit home right here in OKC. After the Murrah bombing, they came and installed a huge tape mural in the first responder’s area as well made visits to elementary schools and our childrens’ hospital engaging the kids to help with the actual art.  It was touching to see how his story had intertwined with Oklahoma City.  Oh the impact they made….

The movie finished with me viewing tape art as whimsy, clever, fun and lighthearted meant to bring joy in difficult situations and helping others cope with lack of control.  I completely missed the full impact!

Recent Newsletters:  Insterstitial cystitis-getting to the underlying cause

After the movie we had an extra treat of Michael Townsend actually being present and answering questions. While the questions varied from which piece of furniture was hardest to get in the apartment (they used a two story almost vertical ladder to move things inside) to what was he thinking when he got caught…. the most inspiring hand that was raised was from a young man. He proceeded to tell Michael that he was a student at the elementary school where Michael and his team had led some tape art sessions after the bombing and how much that had impacted him. The former student didn’t even know what this movie was about and was just randomly (or clearly not so randomly) present.  Wow! Did you see that coming?

The whole mission suddenly hit home when the impact of doing these random tape murals surfaced in the light of someone actually who had participated.  Michael’s odd and quirky journey of building an apartment inside a mall transcended all objectives and landed with a higher purpose of helping others learn that even when things seem out of their control there are ways to regain your sense of balance and proceed.

We often don’t see how our unique trajectories impact others not only now but in the future. As I write this, I can reflect on the people over the years that changed my trajectory.  Has any random act ever impacted your trajectory?  Thank them even if it is just saying it out loud to yourself.  An even harder question is… have you touched someone else’s trajectory?  You have!! No doubt about it even if you don’t know it!  A kind word, a gentle act, maybe something you did randomly for a stranger.  Perhaps our day to day lives should be guided more around the possibility that our actions in any given moment can positively impact those around us.

When Michael came into town for the deadCenter Film Festival they revisted the memorial and did a tape art piece for them inside the memorial.  If you have not been to the memorial then now is the time!!

To your health,