I’m writing this letter with hopes that my thoughts might come in handy. I was hoping some of this might help the world make a little sense one day. Then again, I’m not too sure the world makes sense to anyone anymore. But either way, I figured it’s worth a shot.
I don’t know where you are right now. At least, not exactly. I don’t know what you’re doing or what you’re thinking. I don’t know who you trust or confide in. I know the roads we take are confusing sometimes. This trip we’re on is a wild ride. That’s for sure. So, buckle up but don’t be afraid to ride with the wind in your hair.
There is the ongoing and sometimes unfortunate truth that life keeps moving without worrying about us or what we think, feel or have to say about it. Either way, life moves. Time is always gaining momentum and the pressures to “Be” keep mounting. In which case, words and helpful suggestions can become nothing more than superfluous noise. There is the ongoing and often unfortunate truth that life comes with heartbreak. Life comes with loss. There will be pain. There will be disappointment. There will be downfalls and setbacks, which come with no explanation, other than “It just didn’t fit.”
But goddammit and dammit all, sometimes.
You know, there is a great big world out there.
There are a lot of people on this planet.
We have billions of them.
And me and you, well, I suppose it is suffice to say that we are a small portion of something so much bigger.
We are part of this huge project I call Project Earth.
Did I ever tell you about my friend Clear Shot? For the record, Clear Shot wasn’t his birth name. No, this is his nickname. The reason for his nickname was because Clear Shot would create sprinkler drawings for commercial office buildings.
There are old buildings throughout New York City that were built before current standards as the new buildings we have today. Enter my friend Clear Shot.
His job was to sketch a plan for the Department of Buildings to have on file. The drawings were detailed prints which designed the plan; and the details of this work needed to be done according to the plan upon inspection. However, anyone in the construction business knows to always expect the unexpected.
I have always been a fan of stories about people who come from behind. I am a fan of the underdog. In fact, I am a fan of anyone that is unbeatable because no matter how many beatings they take, they just keep going.
I am a fan of the dreams that come true. In fact, I openly admit to being a fan of high school movies about kids that overcome the odds and the conflicts of popularity. I love this. I admit to enjoying the corny endings where the entire school applauds and gives someone their due.
There is this thing we have, which we all have. It’s called a past. And don’t worry. This happens to everyone. To keep this easy, the past is nothing more than a combination of our yesterdays. That’s all it is. The past itself is emotionless. On the other hand, we are not. In some cases, some of our yesterdays are regrettable. And sometimes, some of our yesterdays are painful and unforgettable. There are people, places and things that come up in our daily lives. There are triggers that link us back to old memories. This pulls us back to old emotions, which lead to the pathways of shame, blame and pain. Or more to the point, these are the links that take us down the rabbit hole of judgement and rejection.
The following story is not necessarily mine to tell and the views in the following paragraphs might not be shared by others. However, these views are mine. These are my thoughts about a night back in the month of what I believe was September in 1987. This is a story about an elderly woman named Mary. She was known as Crazy Mary, which is an unkind thing to say but facts are facts and the truth is history is unconcerned with our feelings or opinion.
Who knows where it all came from or why? Who knows if we were just kids looking to fit in or if our need to belong outweighed our need to be decent to one another. The truth is I believe that regardless of our age and no matter where we are in life, deep down, we are all just kids trying to find our place in the sand box.
Inside of me is that kid that never wanted to be picked on because I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to be pointed at because I stuttered when I read out loud. In fact, I could read a page, a paragraph, and even a sentence and yet, I had no idea what I read.
This is why this little piece of me right here and my writings, my thoughts and my journals are huge victories for me because keep in mind, to be able to write this and let the universe take it wherever it may go is a victory for me. This disproves all the crazy myths about me in my head and only goes to show that no, I was never stupid.
They say springtime is coming in less than one month. This means our half of the northern hemisphere will tilt closer towards the sun. This means more daylight and an earlier sunrise. This means warmer weather too, which means summer will be here before we know it.
As for now, I am writing to you with no agenda in mind. In fact, I am watching the orange hue build from the horizon in the east. There is a white line in the sky, which is the sign of a jet plane, flown over my home at a place I call Wesley Hills. I am on the verge of something here. And so are you, for that matter. We all are.
There was a great chapter in a book I read back when The Old Man was passing away. The book was something I picked up from The Old Man’s bedside at the hospital. He was reading this before his heart took a turn for the worst. I remember this book, which I’ve read again, a few times since. I remember him too, The Old Man, I mean.
There is something so strange about understanding the end and the finality of life. I cannot quite explain this any other way than this: Death is so final. And yet, there was something more to this moment. I had “A time,” is all I can say. I had a time with my Father before he passed. I had a moment, in which we shared a few thoughts and ideas.
Of course there was sadness. But there were victories here as well. We had the chance to say things we never said before. More importantly, I had the chance to hear something I had seldom heard before.
It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since all of this madness began. I remember about a year ago, at this time. There was talk about a virus coming and people were getting sick. No one ever expected it to reach this proportion. No one ever dreamed that Covid would become what it became. Certainly, no one ever thought New York City would cancel the march of all marches and shut down the St. Patrick’s Parade. And this year too. It seems the luck of the Irish might not be as lucky this year.
In fact, I can remember sitting in a meeting about this. We thought we would all be fine. We never expected anything to be this way. Even when there were talks about shutting the City, the shutdown was only supposed to last for two weeks.
I have a question, which I think is interesting. What makes anyone different? Or better yet, what makes anyone stand out?
What differentiates you between me, or me between a financial wizard? There are people in life that exist in all different categories. And yet, there are people that stand out among them all as successful. They are in the news. They are creators. They are innovators and somehow, they rise above the rest of the world to become newsworthy — but what makes them so special?
I am going to begin here at this line, which I call the start of my day. The sunrise is climbing higher now. The sun does not carry much warmth this morning and the snow on the ground is pretty to say the least. I am going to start here, at the beginning of my day with hopes to unchain myself from the process of thought.
I say this because this is very important. I say this because our thinking is impactful and can either be our source of empowerment or a tragic downfall, depending upon our angle. And here we are again.
We are trapped in a sense, but yet free, or either or. We are able and capable or yet, internally, we are not free at all if we find ourselves locked up or stuck in a crazy mind set. We are not free if we overthink or over analyze. Instead, we are held here in our personal purgatory; unable to move onwards and afraid to be left back.
Make no mistake about this. . .
No one will ever see your goals the way you see them. No one will ever have your dreams and no one will ever have the same drive. No one can ever duplicate anything you’ve created. Believe me on this one.
Even if something is built similarly, no matter what level the creation might be, still, no one can ever build anything that you have created. No one can do this because of one simple fact. You built this!
This is yours. You created this. No matter what you’ve built, it was built by you and as such, no one can ever recreate this.
See this? This is my therapy.
These are my dreams and this is my way to close my eyes and see something other than, say, the homeless man dangling on Lexington with a dirty paper cup, asking for change at 5:30 in the morning.
This is my weight to balance the off-balance moments, like now, when the stress comes. I need to do this. I have to or else . . .
Or else I give in or worse, or else I explode in a sense and jump down the throats of the people I love the most. And put simply, they do not deserve it. No one does. So I defend them (and myself) by playing a game called visualization.
Something we seldom realize is the word never is a really long time. So is always and certainly, so is forever. So are the ideas we think, which we assume will last forever, like say, the heartbreak we feel during our first crush. Or think about the moments of humiliation. Think about the times we were hurt or embarrassed to the point we never thought we would get over it and we promised ourselves, “I am never going through that again.”
I am sure there are countless times we have all said, “I’m never going to do that again!” and yet, mysteriously, never only seems to last a few days.
I was thinking about a few of my challenges last night. I was thinking about the differences between people. After a while, I started to think about the hurdles we jump and the obstacles we have to overcome. Each day, we have to navigate through this maze we call life. This happens on a grand scale and on a daily basis. This happens to everyone. It’s not just me.
I was thinking about the critics and the intimidation of the crowd. I was thinking about my fears as well as my worst fears which are humiliation, exposure and shame. And then I was thinking about my anxieties and the stressors that appear out of nowhere, which is why I am awake at night to talk to my friend, Insomnia.
Life got off to a different start today, which means my usual position is out of sorts. This means I had to wing it today, which is not how I like to spend my morning. But either way, life is life and here we are on the great conveyor belt called Project Earth. Know what that means? It means either way, rain or shine, happy or not, we still have a race to run.
This is not written for everyone. No, I suppose this is an effort to reach you. This is not going to be simple. I admit that. I also know this is not going to be emotionless either. I admit this too and of course, this is where people stray. This is where people exit the stage.
I am writing this as an offer to you.
I am hoping that in fact, this reaches you and opens the door that you have decided to slam shut for reasons, which in fairness, I completely understand.
Do you want to know where it starts?
I’ll tell you what I know, which does not mean that I know it all. This just means this is what I’ve seen during my time that I spent in the trenches of my crazy life because the rest is history, or so they say. But first it’s a style. This is a culture all to itself.
First, it’s the attraction. This is the draw to something that leads to an idea of something that takes us away from the silly normalities which you and I call life. This stems from status and the different brands of popularity. This is also what keeps people coming for more. This is why people give samples for free; to pull you in. And this is why people say “Hey, do you want to get high?” because they know you’ll be on the dangle really soon.
If you ask me, I’ll tell you. And the answer is sure, I have a dream. I have ideas and I have hopes. I have them the same as I have my flesh and blood. And I say it this way because this is my body. This is my brain. And the hopes I share and the dreams I tell you about are as real as my mind, body and soul. They are not meant to be a secret. I say this because it used to be that I would never dare to tell a soul. I would never dare to say what my dreams were or what my hopes were. I would never do this because they were too real and too raw. Plus, what if I mentioned them aloud and then found out that none of them would ever came true. Then what?
There is something we often forget about ourselves. This goes beyond our capabilities. This is us at our core. This is our attitude and the way we adapt to our circumstances as well as our surroundings.
The fact remains that most of us spend more time at work than we do at home or doing pleasant things, which does not mean work is or has to be unpleasant. Work is part of life.
We live some, think some, work some and play some as well as eat, breathe and sleep some too. This is life. The idea of a work life balance, however, is something completely different.
There are the great misconceptions about love and writing about love. It would be inaccurate to believe that one has to be in love in order to write about love. There is the misconception that one would have to experience heartbreak to be able to write about the absence of love.
Love is only love.
Love is us. Love is the way we think and breathe. The same as we are alive, love is alive. Anything we write or say about us is true. Even if what we say about our love is not true; our lies are still true because somewhere, deep down beneath the layers we hide behind and deep beneath our public image, and deeper beneath the roles we play in a back and forth chess match, and behind all of our push/pull mentalities, behind the nonsense and the make-believe, somewhere in there is a dream and a wish. Somewhere in us is a love we only hope could be true. Somewhere in us is the desire to be more.
I admit it. I am a fan of nostalgia.
I love the old memories, which bring me back to old times
and better times.
I love it when I catch a whiff of something;
a smell from somewhere
or a whiff of something so simple as say,
a honeysuckle bush
and how this reminds me of a childhood memory.
I have this idea sometimes. Or maybe this is a vision. Maybe this is just the need to close my eyes and see something different.
Maybe I need this because there is enough craziness in the world. There is enough ugliness and hate. We don’t need more. We don’t need more reasons to argue. We don’t need more reasons to complain. We already have plenty
I was told to let today be sufficient for itself. Tomorrow will come with its own list of things to do, places to go and things to see. Today is only here once. So, make it count.
And I get that.
I admit it. I’m a big baby. I admit that I am afraid of needles. I admit that I am afraid of the dark. I admit that I have both rational and irrational fears. I admit that my fears have distracted me at times and that my anticipation of a situation is often worse than the situation itself.
I admit that I have given way to procrastination. I admit that I have submitted, forfeited, sabotaged, self-destructed and self-medicated to placate the symptoms of a problem that was buried beneath my behavior.
Somewhere in there is the dream machine. Somewhere in there is the child within. Deep within us all is a drive to be, think, feel, taste, touch and smell. There is a need to cross the finish line. There is the hunger to be the one lifted on the shoulders of our teammates and carried off the field in the thrill of victory.
Perhaps this vision might look differently to you or someone else. Yet still, there is this dream to reach a level of greatness; to not only be valid or validated but to be honored and wanted. There is a need for the sense of connectedness that goes beyond just being included. And yet, adversely, there is often a worry that none of this will ever come true. There is often the inaccurate anticipation that somehow or in some way, as hard as we try, we just can’t reach the mark.
There is too much going on at once right now. I can see that I am not alone on this one.
In the last year, we have seen more losses than ever before.
I hear people talking about our “new normal,” but is this it?
It would be dishonest of me to say that there wasn’t the idea of us against them. It would be dishonest to say that some of this wasn’t fun. The rebellion I mean. This is one of the reasons why it was us against them. I wanted to rebel. I wanted to fight back. More than anything I wanted to be heard but I never had the voice to properly speak my thoughts. I never had the words or the language to explain what I was thinking or feeling. Instead, I acted.
This is why it was us against the world. It was us against the authorities and the people in the town. It was us against our parents, the teachers, the principals, the guidance counselors, the cops, the local government and anyone else in the world that did not see things the way we did. I pluralize this because there was more than just me.
And suddenly, there is the idea of jumping to just get away. There is the idea that everything around us has become unbearably heavy. Too heavy in fact, and there is no end in sight, no relief ahead and nothing promising in the horizon. There is the heavy weight of nothingness, which no one else can see but yet, only you and I can feel it.
No one ever said the right thing would be easy. No one ever told me that it would be easy to deny the body or to deny my thoughts. No one ever told me this.
There are times when we want to quit. There are times when we feel pain. We feel anguish. Our anxiety hits the all-time high. There are times when we experience conflict. There are moments when there is work to do but our body does not feel up to the task; and therefore, our mind does not feel up to the task. There are times when we lack the push and the shove or the drive we need to get us through the day.
It is a little after 3:00 in the morning . . .
I yawn while laying on the couch because the bed frustrates me when I can’t sleep.
Ever get this way?
I find myself traversing between sleep and dreams and then waking up, wondering and thinking too much of course about insignificant things. And then I’m awake (like now, for example) with my mind in a million places at once.
In spite of everything that goes on around us, life still happens. Regardless of what’s on the evening news and whether or not it rains or pours or the sun comes along to dry up all the rain, life is still life. Time is still time and nothing we can do will change this.
Make no mistake about this; the clock is always on. Time is inevitable and eventual. And it’s enough to hurt and bewilder; it’s enough to shock the heart and soul, straight down to the very core of our being.
There are things in life that I never had. Some of which are simple things like a brand new 10-speed bicycle. Some of which are the basic rites of passage. For example, I never played a sport on a school team. Some of what I never had are the understandings that come later in life. This comes when maturity sets in. And I’m not sure if I’m mature yet. I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up. Then again, I’m not sure if I’ll grow up or if I want to. At this point, I am near the age of understanding that who I am is exactly who I am supposed to be.
I understand now that everything has its place. Perspective is everything. Hence, there is a purpose for everything. Hence, there are reasons why and reasons why not. And perhaps this is too broad. Or, perhaps this is a bit too vague. But to me, this is as clear as the sunrise that is taking place on the other side of my window right now.
The truth is I don’t know who really understands or who doesn’t. The truth is you and I can look at the same thing, and yet, we can both see something completely different. Whether you and I or anyone else sees life the same way is not as important as the fact that we all have a life to live. We both have our own ways of thinking, We have our own views and our own choices to make. The truth is we all have life at our doorstep, each and every day. There is no escaping this.
At last, I was free. Or, at least I was somewhat free. There were more steps that I would have to take but I was unaware of what those steps would be. I had no clue about the need for personal change or growth. I thought this is just the way life is.
I was alone, yes. I was uncomfortable as well. The small rooms in my tiny apartment were empty. There was nothing on the walls. There was nothing to absorb the sound or stop the echoing in the rooms. There were no decorations or anything of the sort. My kitchen was the smallest I have ever seen. The cupboards were empty with the exception of a few plates and a few utensils that were left behind by the previous tenant. I went from living in a large home with a two-car garage, an in-ground pool, and a nanny’s quarters to a small, upstairs apartment in someone’s private home.
It is time for us to address a common topic. It is time to recognize that unfortunately, there is loss. Dying is part of life. There are times however, when loss comes unexpectedly. There are times when loss defies the natural order of how life is supposed to be.
For example, it is unnatural for a parent to bury their child. It is unnatural when the older buries the younger. No matter what the age might be, although natural, the finality of death seems so unnatural to us; to be without someone, to never hear their voice again or see them in the flesh, to say goodbye but yet, to hold onto them with all we have because memory is all we have left is an idea that has become far too common.
There are four words that make up one important question. I remember the challenge this presented to me and the way I was stunned for the moment. I was stunned because I lacked an answer.
The question is “What is your why?”
What is your why? As in, what is your reason or what is your purpose? What is it that gets you up and out of bed in the morning? What’s your drive?
When you hang your hat at the end of the day, what is your takeaway?
What do you want to leave behind? The initial question is “What is your why?” but the question is bigger than just one simple thing.
I took a drive by the old house last night. I drove through town and saw some of the old places. I drove by the park and saw the opened gate on East Meadow Avenue. This reminded me of the times when my friends and I would run around and be nothing else, except for young and crazy. It has been a long time since then. It’s been too long but still, I remember this all very well.
The truth is you and I have been plagued by a set of standards. Whether we come from the same place or different, the truth is we’ve all followed a culture and way of living.
The truth is both you and I have believed in the outlines we’ve been given. We’ve been told that this is life and this is how we are supposed to live it.
There was a time that seemed so long ago. I remember this time. In fact, I remember these times very well. And looks were everything back then. Life was different. The world was a different place to me. Then again, I was different then too. I was young and wild, crazy, and eager to be someone.
I had all the hopes but no direction. I was working at my first gig at the time. Dear God, I must have looked like a 12 year-old in a suit. I was baby-faced and carried a briefcase. I had hopes to make my first million by the time I was 21. The only problem was I never really knew the work this entails. Plus, there wasn’t much money or hopefulness in the business I was in.
So, I want to ask you something. This is just a question really.
Are you ready?
Okay, so here it goes.
What is fear?
Know that words have meaning.
Know that even the simplest terms can have the most powerful and profound effect on someone’s life. Everything we say has impact.
Everything we do has impact. Everything in life moves in an inevitable, eventual and unavoidable way.
Imagine a lake.
Imagine the quiet. Think about the surroundings. Think about the emptiness. Think about the toss of a rock in the middle of still waters. Think about the plunge and the ripple effect; whether the rock is big or small, there is always an effect. This is the same as the words we share.
It isn’t fear of success so much. Not really. This is not to say that fear isn’t there because fear is always there. Isn’t it? Fear itself is neither good or bad. Instead, fear is only a factor. Fear is only a motivator. This is one of the prime movers in our system.
There is no fear of success. There is no fear of crossing the finish line. There is no fear of “Making it.”
No, the fear isn’t about success at all. Instead, there is a fear to acquire and lose. There are the fears of reaching for a goal, achieving it and then losing it.
There are the inherent fears that have nothing to do with success itself. No, the fear is for the effort it takes to maintain our achievements. There are fears about making it once, feeling the thrill and then suddenly we become old news. There are questions like, “How do we keep this shiny and new? ”
It is safe to say that we meet all kinds of people. It is safe to say that we will meet unforgettable people. We will meet the remarkable ones who no matter where they are or where they come from or move to, there is and always will be a place in the heart for them.
Along the way in this thing called life, we will meet friends. We will love people. We will need them in our life and of course, there will be times when fate is being unkind. Yet somehow, almost mysteriously but always timely, the people we need most in our life instinctually arrive. We need these people. We need to be sure to keep them whenever possible.
Here are my concerns. And to keep this simple, I think it is only fair to call this out as it is. This is only a concern. This does not mean my ideas are fact or fiction. This only means that there are some people that forget about the dangers of life when they are safe and carefree.
Before we begin, I would like to invite you to enjoy this exercise by stretching your imagination. First, we will start by envisioning the information below. See this as it relates to you and allow the pictures in your mind to unravel and unfold into a scene, as if this is your life.
There was a sales class I took where the teacher explained that it is best to always find a benefit to every fact. Whether the fact is positive or not, the idea is to always find a positive benefit and learn to connect to our co-workers and clients with a strong level of commonality. I saw how this helped me as a salesman. Moreover, I can see how this helps me with everyday life.
This is who we are. We are this.
The truth is we are so many different things. Aside from being a person, we are what we see and what we think. We spend time worrying too much about things that are less important than we actually believe. We can all be trivial at times. We contemplate. We anticipate and predict. We find ourselves in a routine to create a source of comfortable understanding. This way we can come to an understanding. Or, if nothing else, at least we can find a way to tolerate the pace of everyday living.
We are a compilation of events and ideas that mix with emotions to become our feelings. We procrastinate from time to time. We are smart in our own way and ignorant in others. We are literally all of this. Yet, we are so much more.
There are basic motivations in life. There are motivations to be, to think and to feel a certain way. There are also certain motivators to keep us moving in a preferred direction. Ideas and thoughts lead us to the end results of feelings and emotions, which trigger a sense of need, desire and urgency. Motivation is neither positive or negative. Instead, motivation is an energy source in need of direction. The direction of our energy depends upon our motivator as a primary drive.