I take this up to the roof sometimes. My thoughts, that is. I head up to the roof of a building, which is high above Lexington Avenue.
I look out at a sea of tall buildings and a skyline, which I depend upon. I see this place as my quiet refuge. I take to the roof, which is high above the street and high above the speeding cabs and the pedestrians in masks because, well, everyone is wearing a mask these days. at least, they are supposed to be.
Everyone is afraid of a virus that is sweeping around the globe. And everyone has their own opinion about this. Some say this isn’t real. Some say this is just a hoax. Some say the pandemic is the government and they’re looking to control the population. And in fairness, I’ve heard predictions about this before. I remember there were people saying this will come. I’ve heard predictions that “They” are going to send a virus out into the world to soften the population to be more controllable. And me, I’m just another person in a mask, looking to stay away from a flu-like virus, which is certainly real to me. At least, to me, the virus is real enough to have killed more than 1 million people and destroy our economy.
I take to the roof of the building at work because there is no reason to be afraid up here. I can take my mask off and feel the breeze against my face. There is no one around to compete or argue with. There is also no politics up here on the roof. And I’m tired of politics. There is no belief system or someone looking to tell me about what they know or how they think. I can just be me for the moment without the need for sanitizing my hands because I’m clean
I love it up here on the roof.
I love the way my city looks and I love the fact that I can either look uptown or downtown, east, or west. The City has changed throughout the years. I know this. Some of the changes are nice but the old history will never go away. I know this.
There is a tall building that has just opened on Vanderbilt, which is directly behind me. And for now, this building is the second tallest commercial structure in New York City.
I’ve watched this building grow since the day they broke ground. I watched as teams of people both planned and built this building from the ground up.
I’m sure there were differences of opinion. I’m sure the workers came from different backgrounds and they had different political beliefs. I’m sure not all of the workers got along with one another but either way, bolt by bolt and beam by beam, the building went up because in the end; the teamwork prevailed.
After all the planning and after all the money and back and forth deals, in the end, this structure will far outlast us all.
At least, I hope so.
This was built in front of my eyes, which amazes me because I wonder if I am the only one that sees how incredible it is to know what people can build if they work together.
I come to the roof to think and I come to the roof to tell my secrets to the wind. I come up to have my coffee and look out at The U.N. building and look passed it and beyond the East River. I look uptown at The Citicorp Building and remember how long it’s been since I worked across the street from this place. This is more than 20 years now, and here I am, still a union man. Still working. Still looking for an angle and still looking to see what I want to do when I grow up.
I have a column now in a labor publication. I have a class that I’ve created for my union’s training center. I have built things. I have made my share of changes. And just like my City, I’ve had my share of personal facelifts and tragedies, accidents, improvements, and I’ve seen my fair share of growth throughout the years.
Sometimes I look around and I am amazed at where I am. I think about the way I used to see myself as opposed to the way I see me now. I think of the opportunities I’ve had. I think about the ones I’ve missed and the ones I’ve taken advantage of.
I believe there is always a way.
I believe there is always a trick somewhere. There’s always an opening. And there’s always something to look towards, to find hope, to encourage motivation, and to empower us to keep on going.
You just have to keep adjusting. That’s all. But I admit that adjusting can be tiring sometimes, which is why I come up to the roof to see if I can find my center or at least a semblance of motivation.
Life is different now. This is for sure. The City is in trouble. But somehow, I know She has been in trouble before. And so have I.
Trouble is temporary though. I know it has to be.
I know there were troubles when the building on Vanderbilt went up, yet, still, the building went up. I know there are troubles that come with life but unless this kills me then there’s no reason to stop or “Give up.”
Every so often, a change comes our way. And it’s not like we asked for the change but either way, the change is here.
Like it or not. Change happens. All we can do is learn how to navigate our way through it. All we can do is look for the opening and try to find our way through. I believe this. I don’t say this is easy the same as I don’t say life is easy.
But for the moment while on the roof, I find myself looking around at the sky and relaxed by the hushing sound of the wind. I don’t know what is coming next but I do know that if my City can survive, then so can I.
Relax, She tells me. It’s Thursday, She says.
A lot can happen on a Thursday.
So be mindful. Be careful. And be safe.
That’s the best we can do.