There are places I have seen that I never believed I would see. There are beaches I have walked along and sunrises as well as sunsets that I have witnessed. Take for example, one of my last trips to the west coast, Imperial Beach in San Diego, California.
I was up at the sunrise each day and there to watch the sun go down.
I never thought I would be here, but yet, I was there.
I never thought I would have the opportunities that came my way, but yet, I did have them, regardless to what my thoughts were.
I never thought I would see a lot of things, like my last ride through Beverly Hills or my last meal that night at The Riot House over on Sunset. By the way, if you ever have the chance to try sweet corn ravioli—take it, right away, because this was one of the best appetizers I ever had in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I will always be a New York City kid. Nevertheless, I will admit it. Watching the sun go down over the hills in L.A. is a beautiful thing to see. There are places I never thought I would see and things I never thought I would do —and yet, I’ve done them, which means I need to acknowledge them.
I never thought anything would take me this far. I never thought I would be in third row seats, just off the floor at a New York Knicks game.
I never thought I would shake the hand of someone famous in the art field and assist them in their journey to get well.
Or better yet, I never thought anyone would listen to someone like me. But yet, I have been invited to speak in front of schools, college classrooms and rehabilitation centers.
I never thought anyone would listen to me, but yet, there I was in a college lecture, talking about the root of what I do without editing and changing my monologue —and there they were, the students, taking notes on everything I said.
At one point, I asked all the students to take their phones and put them away. Then I started drawing a few things on the whiteboard. I turned around and all the students had their phones out.
I shrugged and said, “Guys, what’d I tell you about the cell phones?”
One of the students responded, “We’re taking pictures of what you’re writing.”
I smiled and acknowledged, “Oh, I get it. I’m old.”
I explained, “We didn’t have cell phones back when I was your age.”
I looked back at the board and thought to myself, “Hell, I wasn’t even in school when I was there age,” which is true because I dropped out. I “Dropped out,” which meant that I believed this was my best level of success for such a long time.
Now, of course, I am my own worst critic. There are times when I perform or present and I can see when I went too far in a direction I’d wish I could have changed. And I get it. I’m not getting younger. I get it. The age of 47 is not necessarily the age when people decide to switch gears but fortunately, one of the kids I met at one of the high schools told me he didn’t believe I was 47. He told me, “You don’t look that old,” and I know how he meant it, which is kind of funny. And kind of not funny too.
I never thought I would do any of this at any level. But yet, here I am defying my doubt.
I never thought I would run a weekly program at a homeless shelter for two years. But I did.
I never thought I would run a Sunday morning program in a jail. But wait, I never thought I would even willingly go to a jail, except of course, to visit one of my old friends.
However, here I am now, two years in the running and I go every Sunday morning to coach an empowerment class to help people create a new vision.
And no, not everyone took the plan any further than our time together. And yes, sadly some of the men I knew went back to their old habits. Some of them, as beautiful as they were to me, sadly, they’re gone now. I have a picture drawn by one of them. It means the world to me, which is why I wanted to share it with you.
I used to think I needed everyone to love me and accept me. I used to think I had to be “IT” otherwise, I was nothing.
I get messages from people that are poorly typed and it is clear their mind is not in the best place. I can read their emotion. And they tell me they like what I do. They tell me that it means something. They tell me what I’ve done has helped them There was one person and I swore he hated me. Then one morning, early in the hours of sunrise, my phone rang. He thanked me. He was crying. He told me something I did saved his life —at least for a little while.
I have to take this into account. I have to realize this. I have to remember that we all have an effect on each other, that just because we don’t believe we have the ability to create change, in fact, we all have the ability to inspire. Not every performance will be a rocket show. Not everyone will accept what we have to say or like it —but still, finding our way and finding our passion regardless to the field we’re in and regardless to whatever age we are, we have the ability to defy the lies in our head. We just need to learn how to endure.
Action defies insecurity, which is why I make this note to myself and say, “Just keep moving. Keep working. Keep going until you see your dreams come true.” There is not telling what you and me are capable of. We can literally change the world if we allow ourselves to give it a shot.
And don’t worry about California.
We’ll be out there again.