My Intro to the Westside

I was standing outside of my hotel room in the early hours of the morning. My body was on New York time but my location was Los Angeles, California. This was one of my first trips out to L.A. which was more like a dream to me. I was partly awake because my body was unsure about this thing they call time zones. I was partly up because I was excited to be where I was and partly so that I could call in to one of my Sunday morning empowerment groups.

It was good to hear them. It was good to hear their cheers for me and great to walk away with a beating heart that was filled with love. This came from people who were alive and awake and freezing their asses off on the other side of the country.

I was standing in the parking lot of some fancy hotel. The palm trees above my head were taller than I ever imagined. The wind was warm and the scene was calm. I can remember thinking about my dreams of California. I remember thinking how this place was a different life and that in a million years, this would never be me. But it was me. This became me at the exact moment when I decided to allow it to be me.

Life has a strange way of unfolding. Then again, life is always unfolding. Life is always happening but more accurately, our mental ships can be steered in too many directions.
I say this because I am a ship. I am a vessel. I am a journey that has been traveled and a path that has yet to be determined. I have been backwards and spun around. I have missed the diminishing windows of opportunity. I have overlooked moments that might have allowed me to dare to be great. I am also someone who limited my surroundings. I limited my beliefs due to a trained mindset of habitual thinking. I never thought because I never believed and because I never believed, I never dared; and because I never dared, I never tried and therefore, I found myself in the cycles of habit, meandering through life in mediocracy of the mundane life – no direction, no passion and no point to anything whatsoever.

I heard someone tell me that we are in the effort business. Not the results business. Perhaps our focus has been set too deeply on results and not our efforts. I can say that this is true. I can say that the mind can hold us back and from my own perspective, I can say that I held myself back for approximately 90% of my life. 

I discount my early childhood and the days when I was still unafraid to play pretend or hide and seek. I discount the days when I was unafraid to dance or laugh or sing and not care who was there or watching. I discount the days before status or the insecurities of fitting in.
I discount the times when I realized that there is no rehearsal. There is only one shot. And this is it. I discount the times I decided to put fear to the side; to wake up, no matter how early it was or how tired I felt. I discount the times I decided to write instead of quit because some critic somewhere chose to rip me apart. Aside from this, I have allowed anxiety and insecurity to hold me back for approximately 90% of my life. In simple terms, fearing the lack of results, I allowed myself to submit to the humdrum of an everyday routine.

There are times when you realize you want your life to change. There are times when you realize that you want your life to start and when you come to this realization, you want to start right away. As in, like, right now. And that’s what happened.
I found a better direction. I found myself and my dreams and my old self as well. I decided to gather all of my hopes and plant them like seeds so that they could grow. Otherwise, my dreams would be nothing else but deferred, yet again. And by the way, I still have more to do and more to see. I still have some fears to work through but hey, at least I’m working. At least, I’m up and moving instead of wishing something would happen for me.
I decided to do this instead of waiting or wishing that something would happen. I had to do it. There was no other choice because in fact, it would literally hurt me if I chose to stay in my past. It would hurt me if I didn’t step up to the plate and try to swing at whatever came my way.

I stood in a parking lot of some hotel that I would have only dreamed about. And I was there. I was in California for a talent of mine and a skill. I was 2800 miles away from my home and the streets in the City that never sleeps.
It was funny to me because my accent stands out more when I am not around people who speak like me. And trust me, people detect New York accents quicker than I can blink. 

In fact, I caught a 12-step meeting with someone while I was out there. They asked if anyone was visiting from out of town, which of course, I raised my hand.
They said welcome and asked where I was from. “New York City, New York,” I said and the return was wild because everyone laughed.  

I spoke with a young man who walked Hollywood Boulevard for a few days with no shoes or socks. And he said he was done. He said he was through.
“I can’t live like this anymore.” and just like that, he submitted himself to treatment. He walked the line and changed his life around. More importantly, he made a decision to change. We used to talk on the phone. He found a place to live, reconnected with his family and plays his guitar with his friends again.

This so-called homeless person was there with the only intention to change and improve. Meanwhile, some of our rich and famous were in this same room. They were hiding with a hood over their head, huge sunglasses over their face, trying to hide their identity and hide their attendance; yet; they made themselves more obvious by pretending to be under cover.

I had to stop at one of the rehabilitation facilities where I attended a meeting for the patients. There was a person who talked with me for a while. They were mad that they had to be there. They were downright belligerent and nasty. But not to me.
They told me that they didn’t want anyone to know about them and that they were famous.
As a suggestion, I offered, “Maybe you should stop telling people you’re famous then.”
I don’t think this person liked my idea. Then again, I was back at the same establishment, nearly one year later and rather than being a patient, this person was back as a visitor, clean and sober. 

They approached and remembered me.
“Say, aren’t you the guy that lit the fire that time?”
“On my less-than-great days, yes. That was me.”
“I remember you,” they said.
“You kinda put me in my place at the time,” they said.
“I think I got it now” they told me.
“Thanks man.”

Through it all, we all experience our own levels of realization. I have my catalyst and you have yours. And for me, the decision to find my path was as simple as this: I did not want to walk around aimlessly anymore. I didn’t want to be pointless, directionless or passionless anymore.
My goal was to find my purpose. It’s amazing how quickly things change and turn around once we decide to start to live in the moment instead of living with regret.

It’s been a while since Sunset Boulevard.
But I’ll see you again soon.
I’m sure of it.

One thought on “My Intro to the Westside

  1. We must never discount the innocent child in us.. our society is in a complete mess due to our losing touch with this part of us.. when we do we lose touch with nature and soul and joy and spirit.. What is addiction but an attempt to get back to this to kill off the deadening influences we had to absorb growing up as kids.. the addiction is not the way to go..but the child, well that part of us contains our soul we lose touch with it at great personal and collective cost.

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