I sit by the window in the morning to watch the sunrise. This takes place in the loft of my home, which is small, but quaint, and perfectly secluded in a quiet mountain town approximately an hour away from the city. Truth is I am always up early., which I don’t mind. I like to watch the sunrise. I like the view of the clouds and the sky. I love the seasonal versions of dawn, winter, spring, summer and fall.
Closer to the point, I like when the sun emerges and breaks into the palm of the horizon. Suddenly, the sky begins to take on color. It’s a new day, but to me, I choose to see this as a vision of hope. I come to this moment to find a sense of peace and quiet. This is my time to unplug from the troublesome thoughts and the problematic symptoms, which we face on a daily basis. More importantly, I come here for you. I come to find this thing we have together, the empty page, the keys I type on, and of course, my trusty cup of coffee that sits next to me.
I need this time the same way I need air to breathe. I need this to quench my thirst for life, to live, to feel and to understand my next move down here on Project Earth. This is when we can speak honestly with each other. No one else is around. I can think clearly and push away the common distractions, and just for the moment, I can relax without concern and watch the sun come up.
I love this.
I really do.
This morning, however, I am writing from a different location. I am in Midtown. I am in New York City on the east side after an overnight stay. I am above Grand Central Station, which is where I earn my daily bread. This is my day job until the time comes when I pull off my trick.
I have been part of this city for a very long time now. I have seen amazing things. I have met amazing people. There is an attachment I have to this place, which is kindred, or even maternal; but either way, the city has been on my side for a very long time.
Times Square has seen its changes. I remember when the shops were different. The streets were also different. The crazy times. The crazy places. The peep-show venues and the long-legged woman that worked the streets in high-heels. This place has certainly changed since then. Even the graffiti has changed since then, which is truly an old art form. But I digress. The world was a different place back then.
I was different too. And so were you.
Please forgive me if this bleeds out and seems too personal, because this is personal. It is supposed to be.
Everything I share with you is personal. This is why I come here, to disconnect from the unwanted distractions and pour myself into words. I come here to pass my hopes to the universe to the best of my ability. Besides, what is art without the depth of heart, and this is mine; this is my heart, which is beating for you.
Throughout the years, I have watched new buildings change the skyline and of course, I was here when our skyline was forever altered on September 11, 2001.
But, ah, the city. She has never left me. She will never abandon me. She has never rejected me either. I can dream here. I can be me and seep into the sidewalks, create, write and be me because the city knows my secrets. She holds anonymity well and without the threat of any judgment because she never judges. She just stands tall and offers me a sense of warmth, like a welcomed prince into an ever expanding and always changing castle.
The city has seen me through different phases. I was young here. I have grown here and if fate should have it, I will grow old here as well. I remember the day after Mom died. A butterfly flew over and landed on my shoulder. I was walking towards Lexington on 42nd at the time. Whether this was Mom or not, or whether this was coincidental, I choose to view this as a piece of you comforting me because you and the city are one in the same.
And birds, they have come to me here too. I took pictures because I swore no one would ever believe me. But either way, the city believes in me. And so do you.
Sometimes I come up to the roof of the building at work. I find it peaceful up here. The city’s noise is softened by my altitude and the wind blows across my face. I face east and look south at the downtown bridges that connect Manhattan to parts of Brooklyn. I look up at the north. I see the buildings that I have grown up with and consider the memories of when I began my journey, 20 years ago, as a union employee. And it’s true. Time really does fly.
I was young then. I was sure I knew what I was doing. Then again of course I was sure. I was just a kid. All kids think they know what they’re doing — until one day, we age and we grow and then we look back and we laugh as we realize that in all actuality, we absolutely had no clue.
I like to think about the ideas of perhaps going back to that person I was. I think about the advice I would give me, —and, well, I wonder if I would have been smart enough to listen. Or, would I have been true to the fears I had at the time? Would I have stayed as I was because the fear to do otherwise was too punishing.
There are times when we lose to the wrong ideas. There are times when we find ourselves losing to fearful thinking like water to a drain. And I use this description often because the description is true. When you feel you’re lost, everything is spiraling down. There doesn’t seem to be any way out, so instead of breaking the whirlpool, we sink in the downward funnel and we submit to the drain because, well, what else are we supposed to do?
I think above all things, I would love to go back, and if I could tell me anything, I would like to go back and tell the me of my youth “Don’t settle.”
“Don’t give your dreams away.”
I would have told myself “Hold out for the right opportunity,” and then I would have said, “Don’t accept something just because you’re afraid you’ll have nothing.”
“Don’t live your life according to anyone else’s standards.”
“People pleasing never works for personal happiness.”
“Build your own path.”
“Don’t be afraid to go it alone.”
“Love the right way and not love someone just because you think this is the best you can do.”
Above all, I think I would tell myself, “Don’t ever waste your good surprises on the wrong people.”
I would say, “Know who you want to love.”
“Know what you want to do.”
“Know how you want to live.”
I would love to go back and explain about the model of the world and how the blueprints I was trying to create were based on the models that belonged to other people.
Life is meant to be lived to each individual in a unique and individual way. You don’t have to be like everyone or anyone else. Be you because being you is perfect.
Of all things I would love to go back and tell myself, I would love to tell myself, “Don’t be afraid to try. Trust me. You are capable of amazing things.”
I find myself here, now, in the morning on the day before Thanksgiving. I am reflecting and heeding my own advice this time. I am following a plan that I wish I had followed 20 years ago. But all things happen in time. And all things happen with reasons. Time offers me lessons which I have learned and sometimes those lessons have been costly.
Either way, I have learned. I learned that we are capable of amazing things. But above all, I learned to never waste your good surprises on the wrong people. Always remember your value and always hold out for your worth — never settle, and keep your eyes on the prize because believe me, your dreams are just ahead of you.
I find these letters helpful. I use them to remind me that no matter how I age, I am always youthful. I am a young soul. No matter how I age, I am younger than tomorrow. And if youth is wasted on the young, then the one thing age has taught me is never waste time on distractions.
Today is young. And so are you. Let’s not misuse the day by wasting the good surprise on things that don’t deserve our attention.