Stop for a minute. Turn it off.
Turn off the noise around you. Shut down, just for a second. I’d like to take you someplace with me. I want to show you a quick glimpse from my point of view, which I hope translates clearly to you. I want to share this now, right here, because this is a good time to check in with our hopes and dreams. This is a good time to see where we stand and why. What keeps us stuck and what sets us free.
Worst are the assumptions. The irrational ones. Worst are the ideas and the thoughts that something is about to go wrong or that someone is against you. This keeps us from the moment. But more, this keeps us from being our best. We have our guard up. We don’t want to be sucker punched by fate so we prepare for the pain.
Worst are the ideas that trigger the dominos and next are the assumptions and the judgments. Meanwhile, none of this is real. It’s only real in our mind.
Close your eyes for a moment. Think about a fast moving film clip of New York City. Everyone is hustling around. Think about the millions of people and the cabs and the cars. Think about the millions of people who pass by places like 42nd Street or Times Square.
I choose this place because I view this as the center of my City. Think about this at a time before the outbreaks and the virus. Think about this when the weather is warm and the City is alive. Think about the windows of buildings and the apartments that compartmentalize the millions of different people with trillions of different stories.
Each and every person in this view has a story. Each person has a beast of their own. To each is their own demon and to all is their own angel which, in fairness, are interchangeable, depending on which one we feed.
Each person has their own choices, both past and upcoming, and each person in this view is someone who has seen good times and bad. Everyone has suffered to some degree. Everyone has experienced joy and pain.
Everyone you see in this view has experienced life; although, not everyone experiences life in the same way. But still, we’re all out there. And what does this mean?
This means there’s a great big world that goes on and it’s all happening outside of our own mind. This means that everyone has a struggle. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone has goals, hopes, dreams and fantasies. And tough as it is, the answer is no. We don’t have the same advantages. Even billionaires, if left to their own devices and stripped down beneath the costumes and decorations, inside is just a heart. Life is life. Feelings are feelings. No matter what we have, everything can vanish in a nanosecond.
Now stretch this view of the City beyond the bridges and the tunnels. Go farther than the avenues and beyond the state lines, past the suburbs, and extend this view past the corn fields and the farmlands, beyond the different mountains, and extend this idea as if you were zooming out from your social lens.
You can see the world now. There are more than 7 billion of us out there. There are more than 7 billion people each with their own interpretation. Each person has their own judgments. And each person has felt pain at some point.
Each person has loved or cried. No one gets out alive. No one gets off free. Life happens to everyone; meanwhile, if we suddenly shrink back our view to our life, as in right in front of us, as if to suddenly be snapped back into the very position where we sit; we realize that we are only one version, one view, one mind and one person in the mixture of billions.
The possibilities are endless. The world is out there but sometimes, somehow, we limit ourselves due to assumptions.
I started this exercise between us at the hour of 4:00 in the morning. I am looking through my personal lens. I am thinking about the endless possibilities that can take me anywhere I want to be. I can think about the rooftops or the high-up views I’ve seen from places like high above Broadway. The Hudson River moves below me in this downtown scene, rich with history and filled with memories of The Towers, The World Trade Center. And me, do you know where I am?
I am someplace that I never thought I would be. I am in a conference room that I never assumed I’d see. I am in front of a camera working on my dream and presenting to people on a web series written by me. Had I listened to my assumptions; had I gone with my thoughts that none of this will ever happen; or had I fed my thoughts that none of this would ever help anyone, I would find myself on the street level, looking up and wishing I didn’t quit.
There was a time when I was walking around Columbus Circle. I was just told that something I love to do was not good enough to be shared professionally. I was told not to take this personally. I was told not to think about this and that I should just go on with my life and find something else or some other passion.
I was told, “Don’t take it too hard, kid.”
Someone told me, “Don’t take it personally. I turn down millions of people every day.”
I was told, “You can keep doing what you’re doing. Just don’t quit your day job or expect anyone to pay you for it.”
The last suggestion was the only advice I took. I never quit my day job. I never stopped. I never gave into my assumptions and even when I did, I exposed my irrational assumptions. I told on them and put them out on paper because I learned that my fears and my assumptions are only as strong as the food I give them to survive. Instead, I chose to feed me.
I had to learn to feed my heart. I had to realize that I had one job, which paid my bills and another that paid my heart. I had to nurture this until both became one and the same.
I had to realize that doubt is part of the game. Doubt is the devil inside. This is the voice of a child who is afraid that someone is going to turn out the lights and suddenly, the monster in the closet is all too real. This is the voice of a child who is afraid that no one will want to play with him. This is me inside, afraid not to be received. This is me, a child, who I now feed to be a man.
Everyone has a voice. We have different sides to our own equations.
And there is a choice here.
There are the things we feed and the ideas that we starve. There are the thoughts that we strangle and the hopes that suffocate.
Or, we can go about this a different way. We can feed our hopes. We can offer a breath of fresh air. We can assure ourselves of one absolute truth – that no matter what comes and what happens, I say to myself: I will always be on your side. It’s us. It’s you and me.
We are never alone. Besides, loneliness is only an assumption. However, if we learn and if we adjust; if we feed ourselves properly then we will never be alone because we will always be in the best company.
I go through this kind of meditation. I close my eyes and look at the world. I am not the only one in this world; yet, I am the one. I am the only one who will see to it that my dreams and my hopes will come true. I am the only one who will care and advocate for myself fairly and properly. Should I lose my focus to assumptions or should I give in to my thinking, then I run the risk of losing perspective. Furthermore, I lose the ability to see things like The Hudson River from the 32nd Floor of a building high above the City. If I would have given into my assumptions, I would have lost the right to hear this, “Are you ready Ben? Okay, you are live in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”
(I wish you were here to see this, Mom. I think you’d be proud.)
Had I not been mindful of my dreams in spite of all the losses and heartbreaks or rejections, I’d have never gone as far as I’ve come.
And do you want to know what?
I have more to do.
And guess what. So do you.